Mexican Street Fight: Santa Cruz vs. Mares

By Robert Ecksel on August 28, 2015
Mexican Street Fight: Santa Cruz vs. Mares
It all seemed to come crashing down when Mares was knocked out by Jhonny Gonzalez.

A good old-fashioned Mexican street fight is just what’s needed to give shape to a formless weekend…

Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 KOs), aka El Terremoto, from Rosemead, California, by way of Huetamo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, fights Abner Mares (29-1-1, 15 KOs), from Montebello, California, by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, for the WBA Super featherweight title.

The fight will be presented by Premier Boxing Champions and televised live on ESPN starting at 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT.

Twenty-seven-year-old Santa Cruz turned pro in 2006 at the age of 18. A dynamic come-forward fighter who is one of the best body punches in the business, Santa Cruz, aside from a draw in his second fight, is putting his perfect record on the line.

El Terremota has been handled beautifully. After a few years getting his sea legs by fighting novices and grizzled veterans, in 2011 he stepped it up and won the interim WBC Youth World bantamweight title. In June 2012 he defeated Vusi Malinga (20-3-1 coming in) to win the IBF World bantamweight title. Fourteen months later, he KO’d Victor Terrazas (37-2-1) to win the WBC World super bantamweight title.

Since that turnaround in 2012, the combined records of Santa Cruz’s opponents (or maybe victims is a better word) are an eye-popping 316-32-13.

But he has yet to fight anyone as accomplished as Abner Mares.

Mares is 29 years old and turned pro in 2005 at the age of 19. He has followed a similar path as Santa Cruz. In December 2010 he defeated Vic Darchinyan (35-2-1 at the time and still relatively fresh) to win the IBO World bantamweight title. Eight months later, he won a controversial majority decision over Joseph Agbeko (28-2) to win the IBF World bantamweight title.

In addition to defeating Darchinyan and Agbeko, Mares also has victories over Eric Morel, Anselmo Moreno, and Daniel Ponce de Leon.

Mares is the warrior’s warrior and leaves nothing outside the ring.

But it all seemed to come crashing down in August 2013 when he was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez.

The experts said Gonzalez, longtime WBC World featherweight champion, was nearing the end of his exceptional career. He wasn’t on a losing streak, per se. With the exception of a loss to Ponce De Leon, he hadn’t lost a fight in three years. But boxing is rarely kind to aging boxers, especially aging featherweight boxers, which made his knockout of Mares all the more alarming, and that alarm colors Saturday’s fight against Leo Santa Cruz.

“In my mind this is a fight of the year,” says Santa Cruz, “because we’re both Mexican street fighters. I see this fight like almost a 50/50. We both have a lot to prove. Neither of us wants to lose. We’re going to leave everything in the ring. I know he’s really hungry to get the victory. I don’t want my first defeat so I’m going to go out there and put a show on. I have to pressure him and stay on top of him.

“I’m very determined to win this fight. It’s the biggest fight of my career. This is the toughest fighter I’ve faced. A win against Mares will put me on the level to get more big fights. We know the way to victory.”

The way to victory for Abner Mares is through Santa Cruz.

“I’m going up against a young, undefeated, talented and strong Leo Santa Cruz,” says Mares. “He’s never tasted defeat. All of that motivates me to go in there and be the first one to take him down. I’m past my loss. My experience is going to be the difference in this fight. Anything is possible. He has a lot of talents but I’m going to take what comes my way and put in a great performance. I am in there to destroy. I know what I have to do.”

If Santa Cruz and Mares are “both Mexican street fighters,” and there’s no reason to think otherwise, a good old-fashioned Mexican street fight is just what’s needed to give shape to a formless weekend.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

PBC on ESPN Preview: Leo Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares

Getting To Know Leo Santa Cruz: Episode 1

Getting To Know Leo Santa Cruz: Episode 2

Getting To Know Abner Mares: Episode 1

Getting To Know Abner Mares: Episode 2

Getting To Know Abner Mares: Episode 3

Getting To Know Abner Mares: Episode 4

Getting To Know Abner Mares: Episode 5

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  1. Carl Hewitt 11:59am, 08/29/2015

    I find it rather amusing that everyone is hailing this fight, but conveniently omit the fact that both of these fighters left the 122 lb. division to avoid facing Guillermo Rigondeaux. You’re not a “warrior” when you avoid a champion like Rigondeaux the way Mares, Santa Cruz, Frampton and Quigg have.

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:59pm, 08/28/2015

    Santa Cruz is built like Margarito and his punches land with a thud….Abner’s punches will get there first….the question is whether Mares hits hard enough here. We know this is going to be a good one….we just know it….not one of those “shit fights” that Roach refers to….he should know about shit fights having just pocketed a million or more for his part in one that scammed in damn near a half billion dollars from suckers all around the world.

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