Abner Mares was clearly dejected after a hard-fought majority decision defeat against Leo Santa Cruz on Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
It was a brutal fight at times. There were at least six head-butts, some elbows, and some low blows landed over the course of 12 rounds.
Although Santa Cruz was cut on the forehead and the left cheek from Mares head-butts, the former three-division world champion appeared to do more damage to himself while leading in with his head. Mares had bad cuts around his right eye and under his left eye.
Sporting sunglasses, Mares answered questions from the press, adding that this style of a fight could mean a rematch – or more.
“I think this is a style type of fight that definitely [could mean] potential trilogy,” Mares said.
Not only is Mares facing criticism, but his corner should really be taking the brunt of it. They were in complete disarray on Saturday. One coach wanted Mares to out-box, the other wanted Mares to keep going forward. There was no solid gameplan and Mares wasn’t given the tools to exemplify his talents.
Don’t take any credit away from Santa Cruz. He faced criticism himself for not fighting top opposition, but when a majority of the people said he would go down, he did a 360 and won a majority of the rounds.
Mares admits that for a rematch to work in their favor, a lot of adjustments will have to be made.
“There’s no perfect fight. You will never have a perfect fight. I think there’s many adjustments I can make if we were to fight a rematch.”
Prior to the bout, Mares said that he was not interested in a war with Santa Cruz. He wanted to make the fight easy for himself. However, that’s not what played out in the opening round. Mares went straight after Santa Cruz out of the gate and faded late.
Santa Cruz landed at a 35 percent connect rate (373 of 1,057) compared to 23 percent for Mares (227 of 980). Mares’s tune from pre-fight to post-fight appeared to change with a surprising response.
“That’s what I get paid for – to get hit and to hit the [other] guy,” he added. “I love my sport. I think I gave the fans a really good fight.”
“I really enjoy this. This is what boxing needs. This is what boxing really, really needed. I’m always happy to be one of those fighters to give you guys a good fight.”
Two of the three judges had Leo Santa Cruz ahead 117-111, with one judge having it even. It came with mixed reviews from the fans.
I personally had it 117-111 for Santa Cruz, but it wasn’t as if Santa Cruz literally dominated. Some of these rounds were really close, like the Chicago Cubs losing back-to-back games by one run. They lost, but it wasn’t like they were getting murdered.
Mares felt that the fight was much tighter than the scorecards depicted.
“I thought it was a closer fight. I felt it could have gone either way, but not with that score,” Mares said. “It was definitely bad on the judges, but again, I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, they robbed me.’ He won.”
“If they would have given it to me, I think it would have been fair as well because it was a really good fight.”