One of the most anticipated fights of the year will take place on Saturday, August 29th between two exciting young featherweights in Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1) and Abner Mares (29-1-1). This fight has been brewing for a few years now and has developed into a true Los Angeles grudge match. This fight is part of the PBC series and will be televised live on ESPN at 10 P.M. E.T./7P.M. PT.
Back in 2010, Abner Mares was considered to be one of the best young fighters in the sport with the desire to always fight the best and was even on some people’s pound-for-pound lists. At the time, Mares was doing great work at 118 lbs. fighting and defeating the likes of Yonnhy Perez, Joseph Agbeko and Vic Darchinyan. Although the fights with Darchinyan and Agbeko were controversial in different ways, it was obvious that we as fans had a young fighter with a warrior-like attitude that we wanted to embrace. However, in my opinion promoters ended up getting greedy and started to move him up in weight too fast despite the fact that Mares stands at only 5’4 ½ in height and was never considered to be a tall fighter for the 118 lb. division.
After going through murderer’s row at 118 lbs., he then moved up to 122 lbs. and immediately took on the best in the division in Anselmo Moreno and defeated him in what is probably his most impressive win to this date. Immediately afterwards, he moved up in weight yet again to take on the WBC featherweight champion at the time in Daniel Ponce De Leon. He ended up notching up another great victory and won his third world title in the process. He then attempted to defend his newly won World title against veteran Johnny Gonzalez and ended up getting knocked out in the first round.
Since that fight, Mares hasn’t been able to fully regain the luster he had going into the fight with Gonzalez and has continued to keep fighting as a featherweight despite being naturally undersized for the weight class.
Mares has rattled off three straight wins against lower level opposition. Towards the beginning of his career, he was more of a classic Mexican style pressure fighter with a high work rate, but lately he has been boxing more.
In my opinion, Abner Mares is the more versatile and well-rounded fighter compared to Leo Santa Cruz. However, it seems as though Mares is no longer in his prime as a fighter and this matchup is now more competitive than it ever was.
Leo Santa Cruz, on the other hand, was a fan favorite amongst Mexican and hardcore fans a few years back. However, his choice of opposition over the past two years has made him lose some luster amongst boxing fans.
A few years back Santa Cruz would fight like a classic Mexican volume puncher and overwhelmed naturally smaller guys at 118 lbs. However, as he has moved up in weight, he’s become more controlled and has been working on perfecting the basics. Santa Cruz has more of a chance in defeating Mares more than he ever did in my opinion.
However, it is still a tough fight to pick for most fight fans and without a doubt, is one of the year’s most anticipated fights. Let’s hope it lives up to expectations!