Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Leo Santa Cruz Defeats Abner Mares in Rematch

Leo Santa Cruz Defeats Abner Mares in Rematch

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Mexican-American warriors Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) and Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) battled from bell to bell the way Los Angeles fans at the Staples Center knew they would in their rematch Saturday.

"I think the victor of this fight will be number one in this division".

Santa Cruz started to pull away in the championship rounds.

"Without a doubt, Leo is the No. 1 featherweight in the world", Mares said. Cruz landed a triple jab but got countered by a right uppercut to the chin from Mares. It was a close round.

Both California based fighters combined to throw almost 2,000 punches according to Sho Stats. He's three inches taller than Mares and he has a 3-inch reach advantage. Of course, nothing says they can't do it again after Santa Cruz vs Russell.

Santa Cruz and Mares put on a show that was at least as entertaining as their first meeting.

In the fourth round Santa Cruz keeping his hands high blocks most of the punches from Mares. He has fought only twice since, but both were victories that showcased his growth. But Santa Cruz has evolved into such a well-rounded fighter, mixing combinations to the body and heavy activity behind his jab, that it may not matter. The Associated Press scored it 116-112 for Santa Cruz. I think both of us are seasoned and better fighters right now. Mares is throwing more punches and seemingly getting the better of the exchanges. The only real sign of damage came via a cut over Santa Cruz's left eye, delivered not by a legal blow but a head butt. He has boundless energy, can fight inside and out and loves to push the action. He expects a much more tactical fight this time around against a much more disciplined Mares. Mares seemed to be the busier of the two inside. Charlo continued his attack in the 11th and 12th, choosing to stay upstairs as opposed to going to the body.

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Between these two wars with Mares and a pair of fantastic bouts against Carl Frampton, Santa Cruz has firmly established himself as appointment television.

Mares has went undefeated since the first bout with Santa Cruz; stringing together two nice victories over Jesus Cuellar and Andres Gutierrez. Mares was warned for hitting behind the head. Both were landing a flurry of body punches.

Judge Danesco 115-113, Weisfeld 116-112 and Young 117-111 while this writer has it 116-112. If I lose, I know I came and gave a great fight for the fans, because that's what I care most about. One flurry followed another and, as they did at the end of nearly every round, the pair finished the fight standing chest-to-chest, banging away with everything they had. In the first two rounds, Mares got his punches off first and he didn't give Santa Cruz a chance to get his offense rolling.

The reason for the difference surrounds the performance from Mares, 32, in their first fight three years ago. I've grown as a fighter.

"It was very important for me to show it because people thought I was just a fighter that went forward throwing punches and couldn't box", Santa Cruz said.

The doubleheader also features WBC junior middleweight titleholder Jermell Charlo against former champion Austin Trout. There's an equal argument, however, that Charlo has evolved into the kind of unsafe, well-rounded fighter who is simply all kinds of wrong for the light-punching Trout at this stage of his career. Mares chases down Santa Cruz and lands several combinations as the champion was on the ropes for a second. With a minute left in the round Charlo landed a lead straight right to the head of Trout. Charlo dropped Trout or was it a slip?

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