Santa Cruz Cruises Past Mares

By Robert Ecksel on August 29, 2015
Santa Cruz Cruises Past Mares
“We want to be aggressive," said Santa Cruz, "but tonight we had to box him, too." (AP)

Santa Cruz weathered the storm, all six minutes of it. Then round three started, and the fight ceased being competitive…

Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, in a fight televised live by PBC on ESPN, two-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs), from Rosemead, California, by way of Huetamo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, decisioned three-division champ Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs), from Montebello, California, by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to win the WBA Super featherweight title.

It was a good fight, an exciting. all-action fight. It was not the fight as advertized. The fighters aren’t to blame. They gave every ounce of themselves. It was less their fault than the fault of chemistry and wear and tear. Thousands of punches were thrown. Blood was spilled. It was nonstop. It was thrilling.

But it wasn’t Fight of the Year. It wasn’t competitive enough to be Fight of the Year.

But thet first round was something else. Mares, fighting out of the red corner in black trunks trimmed in gold, flew at Santa Cruz at the opening bell. He went for the jugular. He wanted blood. He wanted to put on a show. He wanted Santa Cruz out of there.

Santa Cruz, fighting out of the blue corner in red, white and green trunks, weathered the storm, such as it was, all six minutes of it. He was bombarded with punches. He countered with thunderbolts. But then the storm subsided.

Round three started, and the fight ceased being competitive.

For all the heart, will, and fighting spirit Mares displayed, he lacks the basic skills to compete with Santa Cruz. He landed punches, plenty of punches, 227 of 980 to Santa Cruz’s 373 of 1057. But except for the opening rounds, it never felt like Mares was in it. He never never stopped trying. But he never bested Santa Cruz, who used his height, reach, and boxing IQ to cruise to victory.

“My dad told me that we could beat him by boxing,” said Santa Cruz after the fight. “We want to be aggressive, but tonight we had to box him, too. And that’s how we got it done.”

I thought Mares’ strategy was a good one—bring it to Santa Cruz, take him to a place he’s never been before—even though it was unsuccessful.

“I think I made a mistake in my strategy,” Mares said. “I came out strong and my corner was telling me to slow down. I wanted to go as fast as I could.”

Slowing down wasn’t the problem. The problem was the man in the opposite corner. Santa Cruz has a perfect record. He’s never tasted defeat. He’s a fighter on the rise. He’s a California phenomenon.

Mares has delivered more than his share of thrills, chills and spills during his career. But he was no match for the younger, taller, fresher, hungrier Santa Cruz.

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2015-08-29 Leo Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares

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  1. 09:54am, 08/31/2015

    Hey Nicholas, you speak as though this was an upset. Santa Cruz was a -250 at fight time and was listed as a -200 at the opening of the odds. The upset would have been a Mares victory,

  2. TheSweetScience 10:34pm, 08/30/2015

    Leo already was in my top 5 current fighters. Now, finally trapping the ever dodging mares, he gets his “big name” fight, and i adore Santa Cruz’s heart.bhe showed that he has the fire that alot of critics questioned. Not because of winning, but how he won. Other than round house kicks, mares trued to ufc leo! And leo held up in the mess of chaos.
    Smack me if you would like, but i have to stick with Pacquiao as my fav. Current fighter. Smack me even hard for this, but i actually really like Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. So much drama, yes, but it makes for old skool fun haha. Sorry.
    Danny Garcia, cuz im frim Philly. Sorry again haha.
    I like GGG, Cotto, Canelo. Santa Cruz is Right there.
    Bam Bam Rios is fun too.
    Shoot, way more than 5, and i dont even know if these are my actual favs. Haha i guess tye current state of fighters isnt so thin afterall!

  3. 10:28pm, 08/30/2015

    First time i feel i have nothing to add comment-wise, cuz everyone hit the nail on the head. The essay itself, finally, was not overyly witty and losing in depth, good job. Comeents were perfect. Especially the point made that santa cruz would have stopped him if mares had not held all night. Not to mention, mares was so sloppy santa cruz found him as best he could. Mares wrestled and held leo’s hands all night, hoping to ture santa cruz. Nope, didnt work.
    Santa cruz would beat donaire.
    especially after rigs. Most recent performance.

  4. nicolas 08:50am, 08/30/2015

    I did not follow the fight so closely, but could this not be an upset as many seemed to feel that Mares would have too much experience for Santa Curz? Perhaps Mares biggest mistake, which one also could look at Donaire in the same light, that they went up in weight too fast.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:23am, 08/30/2015

    Santa Cruz too big, too strong….Mares’ punches had very little effect and if he didn’t hold all night long Leo would have stopped him…. so Abner really did have a good fight plan after all.

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