Despite what some fans might tell you, this week’s PBC main event, which will take place live on ESPN from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, is the biggest boxing fight in the last month or two and the biggest fight presented by PBC. The undefeated Leo Santa Cruz will be stepping to the ring against Abner Mares for the vacant WBA Super World featherweight Title. Also on the undercard, will be Hugo Ruiz vs. Julio Ceja for the interim WBC World super-bantamweight title.
The 27-year-old Leo Santa Cruz comes into this fight with a record of 30-0-1 with 17 KOs. He is known for his high volume punching and constant pressure. He was known for throwing over 100 punches per round a couple years ago, but in recent fights his punch volume has slipped to around 85 per fight. It has made his fights less exciting and seems to have put his career that was skyrocketing up, into stall mode.
The 29-year-old Abner Mares will be stepping into the ring with a record of 29-1-1 with 15 KOs. However, the one loss is a huge red mark on his career in the minds of many fans as it was his last fight of note when he was knocked out by Jhonny Gonzalez two years ago. Since then, he has fought three times and has failed to significantly impress. Mares was rolling through fighters at the time of the loss. Did Gonzalez ruin his career or was his style just the perfect type to stop Mares?
If these two popular Mexican fighters had fought three years ago, this would have been hyped as a possible fight of the year. However, in the past couple years, between the lack of fights and the excitement in the fights we have seen with the two, the fight is still a big fight to hardcore fans, but it has lost its appeal to the casual fan.
If both guys fight the way they have been recently, one, it will be an underwhelming fight, and two, Mares will probably win because of his aggressiveness. However, if Santa Cruz can get his punch volume back up, his offense, specifically the use of his jab, will slow down Mares and I think eventually wear him down. I’m going to go with the latter and pick Leo Santa Cruz by 10th round stoppage.
In the main undercard fight of the night, two other Mexicans will go at it in what should be a slugfest as the 28-year-old Hugo Ruiz (35-2 with 31 KOs) will be squaring off against the 22 year-old Julio Ceja (29-1 with 26 KOs). This fight could steal the show for the night is Santa Cruz, and Mares don’t show up to their expectations in the main event.
Ruiz has a huge reach advantage, and he will try to use the jab to set up Ceja coming in. On the other hand, Ceja will try to find his way inside to work the body. Both guys have good pop, and I do not think this will be going the distance. For some reason, I just get the feeling that the heavy favorite, Ruiz, is going to get caught. Because of that, I’m going with Ceja in an upset seventh-round KO.
All in all, boxing fans should be treated to the 1st 50-50 fight that we have been able to see probably since Lucas Matthysee vs. Ruslan Provodnikov way back in April. This event that is headlined by four exciting Mexican fighters will be the most anticipated PBC event since it has started. Hopefully, we see more events like it and with the results of this card likely to finish in exciting fashion, this could be the start of what Al Haymon hopes to be the PBC era. Enjoy the fights.