Story: Rahmon Ford:
StubHub Center – Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares each fought like they were on a mission Saturday afternoon. While each combatant utilized a different game plan to achieve their mission, the destination was the same- Santa Cruz/Mares II.
Santa Cruz, (34-1-1, 19 KOs), retained his WBA World featherweight title with an eighth-round stoppage of Chris Avalos (27-6, 20 KOs). Scores at the time of stoppage were 69-64, 69-64, and 70-63. All cards were in favor of Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz begin to feel Avalos out in the first frame and landed a nice right hand. In the next few rounds, Santa Cruz began to press the action, at times trying to make the fight rough in close instead of distance.
In the fourth, a left hook by Santa Cruz wobbled Avalos and Leo went in for the finish. Santa Cruz was upset that the fight wasn’t stopped at that point, as Avalos survived until the bell.
Santa Cruz continued coming forward, and began to apply a body attack hoping to break Avalos down. He found pay dirt in the eighth as referee Thomas Taylor stopped the assault at 1:34 into the round.
Santa Cruz on Avalos
“He did great, he was moving, but I saw little mistakes I can take advantage of,” said Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs), who upended Carl Frampton in a January rematch to regain his title. “Let’s bring on the rematch. He paces himself more, he doesn’t go wild, he doesn’t try to knock you out. More speed and movement.
“I think it’s going to be more easy for me. Fighters that create distance make it more easy.”
“I thought I had him in the fourth round. I gassed out a little bit but I got my air back later. I thought the ref was going to jump in during that round but he let him continue.
“I want Abner Mares. I said if we both win, we’re going to fight. I’m ready to fight him in Los Angeles in the beginning of next year.”
“I’m very upset with the stoppage. We were fighting the whole time. There was no reason to stop this fight. I wasn’t hurt like the referee thought. I want to fight for the title again.”
In the co-feature, Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) laid an absolute tallywacking on Andres Gutierrez (35-2-1, 25 KOs) over 10 rounds before referee Jack Reiss stepped in. The official stoppage was due to a bad cut suffered by Gutierrez. Mares was ahead 99-91, 99-91, and 100-90 at the time of stoppage.
Although speculation was the cut came from a clash of heads, a punch seemed to be the culprit in this affair. I thought Gutierrez was going to bring more to the table in this fight. Credit Mares with bringing his A-Game in this one.
Mares went on the attack early and blood began flowing from Gutierrez as early as the third. Mares worked the jab and boxed in ways I didn’t imagine, for sure.
As with Santa Cruz, Mares landed a big shot in the fourth round that would’ve discouraged most fights. However, Gutierrez was game as he came out in the next round, eating power shot after power shot. Nevertheless, Gutierrez pressed forward as if Mares’s shots were kisses on his cheeks.
Mares continued to attack the eye, which by then was bleeding abundantly. The referee had no choice but to stop it on the doctor’s advice.
Mares appears to be a completely different fighter under the tutelage of Robert Garcia. He’s changed his style to the point where Santa Cruz may need to make adjustments in the rematch. Leo knows what that takes as he did the same in a rematch with Carl Frampton.
Santa Cruz, who watched the fight:
“He did great, but I saw little mistakes that I can take advantage of … the rematch, I want it.”
“He won, he looked great. Hopefully, the fans liked how I did. Now that we both got these wins, I think people want to see the rematch.”
“I told everyone that I was here to make a statement. I had a tough opponent and he showed how good he is. It took a lot of punches and a lot of big punches. It was just a matter of time before I stopped him.
“I thought they could have stopped it earlier. He’s a young guy who was too brave for his own good. I was happy with the decision. I deserved the stoppage but I’m happy I got the win.
“I’m a totally different fighter now since I started working with Robert Garcia. We’re going to keep showing that when we fight Leo Santa Cruz.”
“I didn’t feel like the fight should have been stopped. I was hurting him as much as he was hurting me. My cuts did not bother me.
“I want to fight him again or have another shot at the title. I was prepared to fight to the final bell.”
In other action, Antonio DeMarco won by first-round TKO over an aggressive Eddie Ramirez. DeMarco, with his back to the ropes caught Ramirez with a short counter uppercut. Ramirez retreated all the way to the other side of the ring and DeMarco staggered Ramirez.
Ramirez stumbled and his head briefly went between the ropes but he got out just as quick and into defensive position. Not quick enough for referee Gerard White as he stopped the fight at 1:56 into the opening round.
Ramirez thought the stoppage was premature and so did I. Here’s a video below. You be the judge.
“I think it was a good decision from the referee. He was taking a lot of solid punches.
“I’m very thankful to Ramirez for taking the fight. I think big things are coming for me. I’m going to talk to my team and see what is next. I think this performance will erase a lot of doubts about me.
“I’m an experienced fighter and I stayed patient. I had great preparation and waited for the right moment. I feel great right now.”