Santa Cruz: This is going to be a great fight!

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Leo Santa CruzUndefeated Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 KO’s) expects a war at the Staples Center this Saturday night when he finally engages with long-time rival and countryman, Abner Mares.

Traditionally, both Mares and Santa Cruz refrain from trading verbal barbs with their opponent out of the ring. However, this fight is special because it has been long in the making for both the fans and the fighters and as a result, the tension is beginning to swell as fight night draws closer.

“Leo Santa Cruz is a fighter who has fought nothing but C-level fighters,” as he proclaimed in their first press conference in LA,” Mares said of Santa Cruz.

Mares, a former titleholder in three weight classes, also mentioned that he was the one who, “Pushed for this fight” and that Santa Cruz, “Never really wanted to face me.”

Although the internet is littered with what Mares has said of his opponent-to-be, on Santa Cruz’s behalf, there are only short statements to cite his confidence in victory.

“I don’t care what he said about my competition,” said the younger Mexican at the first press conference. “I’ve wanted to fight him for a long time; this is going to be a great fight.”

Even Santa Cruz’s father and trainer, Jose, refused to put down the former champion Mares, which can be all too easy. One only needs to point to Mares’s lone loss and recent fights to argue his decline from the pinnacle of the sport.

“Team Santa Cruz doesn’t speak much,” said the father and trainer.

“Mares and his team can talk and say all they want, but we’re going to demonstrate our talent on Saturday.”

The two have some history together as sparring partners and Santa Cruz had even fought on the undercard of Mares’s last title fight, a first-round knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013, for Mares’s WBC featherweight title. At that time Santa Cruz was only a junior featherweight but even then, his name was thrown in the mix with Mares.

Now their long awaited duel is being hailed as “The Battle for L.A.” With no other official titles on the line, save for the WBC diamond belt which is seen as more of a trophy than a championship title.

There is a divide amongst fans as to which fighter is more likely to emerge victorious and claim bragging rights for their followers, however these three factors hold true: (1) Mares has a better resume than any other Santa Cruz victim who suffered at the hands of the volume-punching “Terremoto”. (2) Mares has not looked like the dynamic puncher-boxer that he was before the loss to Gonzalez. And (3) Santa Cruz’s final statement from the first press conference:

“No one wants to lose and may the best man win.”