Story by: Rahmon Ford
This Saturday afternoon at StubHub Center in Carson, California, an interesting double header will take place featuring favorites Leo Santa and Abner Mares. A win by both will set up a grudge rematch between the two combatants. The first fight ended as a majority decision win for Santa Cruz (117-111, 117-111, and 114-114). I agree with the first two scores, as the draw was more than a stretch.
Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1) takes on Chris Avalos (27-5). At stake is Santa Cruz’s WBA World super featherweight title.
In order for Avalos to lift the title from Santa Cruz, he’s going to have to somehow get the jab working early and try to stay on the inside of Santa Cruz’s punches. He likes to mix it up and if he does, the close quarters will most likely be his domain as he needs to make it a rough and tumble fight. Sometimes Santa Cruz gives up his height and allows opponents the inside advantage.
If I’m Avalos I look to be the counter-puncher in this matchup. Although Avalos is a relentless puncher, Santa Cruz is too, and with more speed. Avalos should use his toolbox of punches, as he throws a solid range of combinations. Santa Cruz can be hit.
If he can get Santa Cruz to go backwards or at least be on his back foot, Avalos has a chance to do good work in this fight. If not, he needs to look for the counter hook.
Avalos needs to try to control the tempo of the fight as Frampton did in the first tussle with Santa Cruz. If he can double jab to the body to set up his explosive shots, he may fight pay dirt.
If Santa Cruz wants a second fight with Mares, he needs to dictate the pace against Avalos. Santa Cruz can apply pressure and throw tons of punches, yet not get into a firefight with Avalos.
He can do it by keeping Avalos at the end of his punches. Santa Cruz also needs to move forward consistently in this fight, behind a jab. As well as he did against Frampton in the rematch, I’d like to see the Santa Cruz of old prior to his two fights with Irishman.
Santa Cruz is accurate with his punches and I believe the jab is a crucial key to success for him in this fight.
Santa Cruz has fast hands and throws at a high volume. He can move you were he wants at times with his pressure and can mix to the body and head.
I’d like to see a less aggressive Avalos, at least early on. I think he can buy some time and figure things out by countering Santa Cruz.
However, what I’d like to see and what Avalos does are two different things. I believe he’ll get aggressive and when he does, Leo is going to time him and take him out.
Leo Santa Cruz TKO between the 5th and 8th rounds
Abner Mares (30-2-1) defends against Andres Gutierrez (35-1-1) for Mares’ WBA World featherweight title.
For Gutierrez to win I think he has to come out fast and take it to Mares. I’m not quite sure what Mares has left, which may sound like premature thought. However, Mares has had eye injuries in the past, including a career-threatening detached retina. He also failed a couple of eye exams, initially forcing the cancellation of his fight with Jesus Cuellar.
I’d like to see an attack to the body, but (and I don’t mean to sound cruel) he needs to go after the eye.
Gutierrez must look to overwhelm Mares and make it as uncomfortable in there for Mares as humanly possible by attacking Mares body mercifully. Mares on the flip side will have to use his big fight experience and dig into his bag of tricks and beat Gutierrez to the punch right off the jump. I’m taking Abner Mares by clear unanimous decision with some close hard to score rounds.
Gutierrez has a fantastic record, but the level of competition pails when compared to Mares. This is his opportunity and he should go for it.
If Gutierrez’s name sounds familiar, he’s the guy who was supposed to fight Carl Frampton earlier this year. Frampton missed weight and then Gutierrez fell in the shower. The result was deep gash on his chin, his nose, and he lost two teeth. See pictures below:
I think Gutierrez should play speed chess. He should attack Mares, but not brawl. Gutierrez has an excellent variety of punches. I love his jab. I love his left hook to the body and head in one quick motion.
He has a Manny Pacquiao type of guard where he has hands high and he bobs his head side to side. While it may be able to be timed at points in the fight, it gives Mares something to think about.
Abner Mares likes to pressure an opponent and try to take his will from him. He hits you to the head and goes downstairs to wear your body down. Sometimes south of the border. He’s rarely in a boring fight and I think this one steals the show.
Mares covets a rematch with Leo Santa Cruz and if he has anything left, he can thank his change in trainers to Robert Garcia who had him box well in his last win against Cuellar.
The key to Mares is to be the bully and make Gutierrez go backwards. If he does this, I like his chances. He should also use his experience and home advantage as Gutierrez hasn’t been in with big names outside of his lone loss.
I see Gutierrez moving, but not like Canelo against Golovkin. I see Chocolatito types of moves in there and Mares is going to attack his body to slow him down.
I think Gutierrez is coming to party on Saturday night. Mares is so focused on the Santa Cruz rematch that I think he may be there for the taking. Mares will win rounds simply by aggression, based on fighting at home in California for the tenth time as a pro.
While Mares has the experience and home crowd, I think Gutierrez has wrong style for him.
I’m calling the upset here!
Gutierrez by split decision