The newly renamed StubHub Center has been the Mecca of boxing in southern California and this Showtime Doubleheader will only add to the recent string of action fights. From a matchmaking standpoint, this card will produce fireworks to entertain the viewers at home. It also features top prospect talent for the paying customer live at the event. Will it be just a showcase to further drum up attention for the Mares vs. Santa Cruz fight, or will there be some unforeseen drama that happens when fans, promoters, and fighters have one eye on the future without fully focusing on the present?
Abner Mares faces a hardened vet in Jhonny Gonzalez, an awkward counterpuncher with plenty of power having scored 46 knockouts in his 54 wins.
Leo Santa Cruz challenges Victor Terrazas for the 1st defense of the belt won in his last fight with Christian Mijares. If successful, it will have been Leo’s second world title in as many weight classes.
The boxing world is already clamoring for a dream matchup between popular SoCal fighters Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz. Golden Boy might have to rush this fight with Abner Mares becoming a free agent and their lack of names at the featherweight division.
Abner Mares is the clear favorite in this fight with the betting sites setting Gonzalez as the underdog with odds anywhere from 5-1 to 7-1. Many think Jhonny is over the hill and a recent lackluster performance last September versus Ponce De Leon is further proof that he may in fact be on the decline.
Going in to the De Leon fight he had won 12 in a row after being stopped by Toshiaki Nishioka in 2009. His biggest win of the streak that netted him a WBC Featherweight Title was a knockout over Hozumi Hasegawa in 2011.
Before that the most notable names on his resume were back to back wins over Mark Johnson and Fernando Montiel in 2006. Those were followed up with a TKO loss from the fists of Israel Vazquez. He bounced back with a win over Irene Pacheco only to be stopped in the 7th by Gerry Penalosa in the his very next fight.
This may come down to which Abner Mares shows up this Saturday. Will Abner use this Gonzalez fight as a measuring stick and come out attacking the body with a high work rate and employ his smothering style? Or will he show patience using his skill, which was a new game plan for Mares against De Leon that worked to perfection?
Does Jhonny still have enough skill and ability to take the fight to the later rounds or the full 12? If Mares turns up the heat early he will get hit. If he decides to set up and time his shots he will get hit less and do more damage with accurate flush shots. My pick in this fight is Abner Mares by TKO or KO somewhere in rounds 7-10.
For Leo Santa Cruz, Victor Terrazas will be his biggest test to date coming in as a sizeable favorite. Terrazas spilled blood and showed heart in a spirited battle with Christian Mijares to become a champion. If this is the best fighter Leo has faced does that make “Vikingo” a live dog with the odds around 3 to 4 1/2 to 1.
Terrazas has a win over Fernando Montiel in this current 11 fight run with his last loss coming in 2010 to Rendall Munroe. Although Montiel and Mijares are big names both were past their prime.
The advantage Victor does have is his experience of being in the ring with some top level fighters. Winning some of those fights and many overall could help him last the full 12 rounds. Besides the Munroe TKO he also was knocked out in of all things, his first fight as a professional.
Leo averages over 90 punches per round which may be too much to handle without possessing serious power to keep him at bay. He has some pop and he better use it if he expects to keep Margarito 2.0 from overwhelming him with combinations.
This will be an entertaining fight and I anticipate the champion will show his heart, possibly too much. Mijares was able to land to the body throughout the fight. In what will be Leo Santa Cruz’s second fight at 122, he may be even stronger. I predict Santa Cruz will either stop or begin to dominate Terrazas in the second half of the fight winning by unanimous decision.
The pressure from Top Rank and HBO money to sway Abner Mares might force Golden Boy to make the fight with Leo Santa Cruz next. Can Richard Schafer give him a few more fights at featherweight, maybe names like Chris John, Takashi Miura and Argenis Mendez at 130? Then the Santa Cruz match up could happen late next year? Top Rank has the opponent advantage with Rigondeaux, Donaire, Garcia, and possibly a rematch with Vic Darchinyan or current titlist Evgeny Gradovich.
As a fan, of course I would want to see one of those fights next because of the style matchups being very intriguing. If they could find a way to keep Mares paid and happy for 2-3 more fights, it may make it a better fight. In the mean time Santa Cruz could continue to step of the level of opposition, giving the young fighter a chance to grow and face a top level fighter.
For boxing heads, it’s a win-win. If Mares vs. Santa Cruz is next, great. If Mares were to sign, let’s say, a four fight deal with Top Rank we would get the fights we want to see Abner Mares in.
Either way let’s hope Mares doesn’t end up like Bernard Hopkins at light heavyweight with HBO having most of the top players. It would be a shame if a fighter in his prime that has proven he wants to fight the best, only to become yet another causality in the cold war between Top Rank/HBO and Golden Boy/Showtime.