SAN DIEGO, August 28, 2015 – Boxing comes back with a bang on Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN Saturday from the Staples Center. Mexican style warriors Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs) and Abner Mares (29-1-1, 15 KOs) will mix it up in the main event. The winner can claim an unofficial title of “King of L-A” in this non-title featherweight bout. Santa Cruz holds a title at the smaller super bantamweight class; this is his first fight at this weight.
The Mexican born Santa Cruz and Mares are longtime residents of Los Angeles, and they’ll both have plenty of vocal supporters in the crowd at Staples Center, just as they did at Friday’s public weigh-in. Fans showed up waving Mexican flags and wearing sombreros. They’ve been waiting for this fight. It’s one of the better PBC matchups for several reasons.
Santa Cruz is the highest volume puncher currently in boxing, able to mix up his attack with body work and pure boxing skills fueling the output. Mares is a classic Mexican style fighter who presses the action. Both promise they’ll take it to each other from the opening bell and never let up. The fans love it.
Despite his undefeated record and two division titles, Santa Cruz is largely untested. He’s achieved his numbers against a questionable lineup of opponent. In his last fight on the undercard of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, Santa Cruz fought a Tijuana construction worker who took the fight on just a few weeks’ notice, Jose Cayetano. Cayetano actually went the distance with Santa Cruz, showing determination and toughness. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t box and train full time.
Santa Cruz and his manager Al Haymon have taken a lot of heat for the lackluster matchups and a perception that his record is padded with patsies. Santa Cruz promised after the Cateyano bout, “Next time we’re going to work harder and look for bigger fights,” said Santa Cruz.
He’ll have one against three-time world champion Mares. After a year long break following a vicious KO loss to Jhonny Gonzalez, Mares looked good in December 2014 with a TKO victory after the corner of challenger Jose Ramirez of Mexico (25-5-1, 15 KOs) stopped the fight following round five. Mares followed up with a unanimous decision in March against Arturo Reyes without a lot of flash or firepower. Mares said after the fight he woke up with the flu, feeling sick and finishing only thanks to a strong training camp. Mares is a powerful puncher who has faced a significantly higher level of opposition. He has won seven fights against current or former world champions.
Who’s got the edge? The weigh-in may have provided a bigger clue than the numbers. As Santa Cruz and Mares posed for the customary face off, Mares refused to break eye contact, and maintained an aggressive attitude and fierce look throughout the process. Santa Cruz was far more genial, flashing his ever-present smile after the photographers got their shots.
Both men made weight; Mares weighed 125.2, and Santa Cruz 124.8 for his first outing at lightweight.
Some athletes thrive in front of the hometown fans, feeding off their energy and excitement. Others feel the weight and pressure of high expectations, and can’t live up to it. This is the biggest stage by far for both men. Neither have fought in a main event prior to Saturday. It’s going to come down to the difference in corazon, the heart and will. Who wants it more? We will find out in entertaining style.
The co-main event features another pair of Mexican bangers, super bantamweights Hugo Ruiz (35-2, 31 KOs) and Julio Ceja (29-1, 26 KOs). Both hit the scale within the 122-pound weight limit. This is the first fight for both in the U.S., on this big stage in Los Angeles. Someone will end this one on the canvas.
Premier Boxing brings PBC on ESPN Saturday, August 29, live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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