SAN DIEGO, October 14, 2017 – Much as everyone expected, WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz and four-time world champion Abner Mares won solid victories against overmatched but game opponents to set up a 2018 rematch of their 2015 Fight of the Year.
Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 18 KOs) took it to fellow Southern Californian Chris Avalos (27-5, 20 KOs) of Lancaster, California from the opening bell. All you can really give Avalos credit for is determination and a good chin. The volume punching Santa Cruz racked up crazy punch stats, especially in the fourth round where he landed three-quarters of the power shots thrown. By the middle rounds, observers questioned why Avalos’ corner wasn’t discussing a stoppage with him to save him from himself.
Fortunately, referee Thomas Taylor finally had enough, stopping the bout at 1:34 of the eighth round. Sure, Gutiérrez was still on his feet, but there was no reason to allow him to suffer any more damage. He has a long life to live outside the ring when he’s done with boxing some day.
“I had a long layoff, I was trying to go there and please the fans, give them a brawl and go toe to toe,” said Santa Cruz. But he said father and trainer Jose told him not to risk it, so Santa Cruz backed off after the fourth round and fought more at a distance. He remained completely in control until Taylor finally called it a night.
“I thought I was going to get him in the fourth round, but I knew sooner or later I would stop him. Now we’re ready for Mares,” said Santa Cruz.
Like Santa Cruz, Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) blasted Andres Gutierrez of Mexico (35-3-1, 25 KOs), opening cuts and inflicting damage through ten rounds before the ringside physician stopped the fight due to cuts, The cuts were judged the result of accidental fouls, sending it to the scorecards. Judge Pat Russell scored it a 100-90 shutout; somehow the other judges found one round for Gutiérrez, 99-91 X 2.
After his fight, an energized Mares said, “I thought it was a great performance, to be honest. After close to a year layoff, I thought I performed really well. I felt quick, I felt just great. Of course I had a tough opponent in front of me, but nevertheless, I thought it was great.
“There were times where my experience paid off. I told you guys, I’m 31 but I looked like I was the 26 year old in there.” Calling out his potential next opponent, Mares said “Leo baby, you gotta win now!” He did, and the rematch is likely on for next spring.
Mares landed 283 of 803 punches thrown, a 35 percent connect rate. Avalos landed 151 of 580 punches, a 23 percent connect rate. Mares landed 53 percent of his power punches.
The televised card started with a surprise as former world champion Antonio DeMarco (33-6-1, 24 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico scored a first round TKO against previously undefeated with undefeated junior welterweight contender Eddie Ramirez (17-1. 11 KOs) of Aurora, Illinois. DeMarco flew out of his corner and smothered Ramirez with punches from the opening bell. Ramirez never went down, but referee Gerard White saw something that bothered him, and stopped the fight at 1:46 of the round.
A word of advice to Premiere Boxing Champions and Fox Sports, not that I think they’re paying attention: When you have the opportunity to show boxing on broadcast TV to a nationwide audience with a major league baseball playoff game featuring the New York Yankees as your lead-in, don’t squander it by showing a single round in the first hour. Be prepared with a swing fight or some worthwhile feature reports.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer 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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