Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares shake off the ring rust on Oct 14
LOS ANGELES – Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) looks to defend his 126lb title in Carson, California on October 14th against former title challenger, Chris Avalos (27-5, 20 KOs) with Featherweight World Champion, Abner Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) also featuring on the card against Mexico’s Andres Gutierrez (35-1-1, 25 KOs). A mandatory rematch was expected between Santa Cruz and Mares this fall, so the decision to fight separately on the same card came as a baffling development. Abner Mares had begun preparation for the Santa Cruz fight and admits feeling irritated that the plans changed but sees the silver lining in having more time to tune up for the Santa Cruz bout and that the focus is solely on his October 14 match up:
It has been suggested that the respective match ups for Santa Cruz and Mares is an opportunity for the title holders to shake off some ring rust after a notable break from boxing. Mares was not so dismissive of Gutierrez, suggesting that the upcoming fight was a legitimate challenge, "There’s no way to fool the fans, people know which one is the better fight. I feel like I got the tougher opponent…".
Even trainer Robert Garcia felt the need to be selective in sparring partners for the featherweight Mares, noting that opponents that are hungry and have nothing to lose can be the most dangerous opponents in the ring. Gutierrez did nothing to dispel the tension reiterating that it was his intention to surprise everybody and take home the championship. Should Mares be successful in his title defense against Gutierrez, he is hopeful of a Santa Cruz fight but is willing to face anyone in the division, mentioning Carl Frampton, Oscar Valdez and Gary Russell Jr as opponents he would like to test. But, conceded that Santa Cruz was a key rival to face.
Leo Santa Cruz had been preparing to face Mares, but on his father’s advice, decided to take a different direction coming back into the ring after regaining his featherweight world title from Carl Frampton in January. Santa Cruz will step up against Chris Avalos, a contender who feels as though this fight is a do or die for his boxing career. Avalos certainly comes in as the underdog, with 3 losses in his last 5 bouts, and by knockout within 6 rounds the pressure to perform is not lost on him, "(I) Didn’t expect it to be so soon but I am ready for it. I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to leave everything I have in the ring".
Santa Cruz is eager to be back in the ring and has promised fans a war and to go toe to toe with what he describes as a ‘tough fighter with power’ and was quick to add assurances that he is looking toward the Mares rematch in March next year. Santa Cruz and Mares' respective title defences will be televised by FOX Sports from the StubHub Center, Carson, California on October 14 from 7.30pm PT/4.30pm ET.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions