As an appetizer to last Saturday’s Super Welterweight Tripleheader on SHOWTIME, Premier Boxing Champions laid the foundation for an alluring Featherweight rematch, featuring Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares in separate tune-up bouts. The event was televised by FOXSports and held at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. To say the least, the notion of Santa Cruz-Mares II was a prevailing theme throughout the broadcast; there was nothing subtle about.
In the main event, Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KO’s) defended his WBA Super title at Featherweight against Chris Avalos (27-6, 20 KO’s), via 8th round KO. There was a bit of history between the two camps, stemming from childhood amateur bouts and sparring. Regardless, by the middle of the very 1st round, it was obvious Santa Cruz was at a higher level of Boxing skill and class.
With chin tucked closely to his chest, Santa Cruz opened-up with both hands, teeing off on Avalos. Looping rights, looping lefts, blows upstairs, blows downstairs, Santa Cruz landed everything; he also smiled, seemingly amused, whenever Avalos fired back. By the 4th, it was as if Avalos had a magnet in his head, attracting Santa Cruz’s gloves to it. The round was so one-sided, you could make a case for scoring it 10-8, even with no knockdown. To that point, remaining upright was evidence of Avalos’ pride and toughness. Problem was, there wasn’t a lick of defense either and the referee mercifully rescued Avalos from himself, stopping the fight in the 8th.
The co-main event wasn’t all that different, between WBA (regular) Featherweight champion, Mares (31-2-1, 15 KO’s) and Andres Gutierrez (35-2-1, 25 KO’s). Mares, who represented Mexico at the 2004 Olympics, put his pedigree on display from jump, landing quick, two-fisted flurries to the head and body. He also connected with overhand rights at will, but between rounds conversations with new trainer, Robert Garcia, kept Mares from getting careless.
FOX color commentator, Sergio Mora, stated “the Machismo is real”, alluding to the inner challenge Mexican fighters face, brawling vs. boxing. The StubHub crowd is notoriously lively and Mexican fighters particularly allow their emotions and zest for combat to get the better of them, at times. No current trainer is more aware of this dilemma than Garcia, who teaches his fighters to straddle that line.
It wasn’t a concern this particularly night, however; Mares was simply on a different level athletically and in terms of Pugilist acumen. As early as round 2, Gutierrez was bleeding from the left eye, courtesy of two overhand rights. Like Santa Cruz’s opponent, Gutierrez was brave as hell, but Mares banged shots off his dome with ease. Throwing a small rock into an ocean would’ve been a more daunting task. The left side of Gutierrez’s face became a mask of blood. In round 10, the referee took Gutierrez to the ringside physician, who determined it was time to stop the proceedings. Strangely, the ref felt the cut was the result of headbutt, so instead of a KO victory, Mares was forced to settle for a unanimous technical decision win by scores of 100-90 and 99-91 twice.
Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares were in agreement on an early 2018 date. They each got to shake off some rust and hardcore fans look forward to them sharing the ring again.