In a battle of Southern California featherweights, Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz, (31-0-1, 17 KOs) defeated Abner Mares, (29-2-1, 15 KOs) by majority decision in a fight reminiscent of Mexican wars between boxing legends Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales on Saturday night.
Scores tallied 117-111 twice and 114-114 in front of a raucous crowd of 13,109 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles for the Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN main event.
With savage uppercuts and brutal power shots from the opening bell, the combatants threw more than 2,000 punches combined with Santa Cruz connecting 35 percent of his total 1,050 punches and Mares connecting 23 percent of his 980 total punches.
In the third round, Mares was cut from an accidental head-butt, with blood sporadically continuing to pour throughout the fight. Santa Cruz took advantage of the distracted Mares in the fourth drilling him with body shots. During the fifth stanza a second accidental head-butt opened an additional cut on the forehead of Mares.
Mares fought his way back into the fight in the sixth and seventh rounds, but Santa Cruz caught a much needed second win starting in the eighth and swept the championship rounds. The fight’s brutal ebbs and flows culminated in a epic 12th round with Santa Cruz and Mares throwing non-stop power shots to close the fight.
Opening the Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN telecast Julio Ceja, (30-1, 27 KOs), of Tianepantia, Mexico won with a sensational fifth round stoppage of Hugo Ruiz, (35-2, 30 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico. Ceja suffered a third round knockdown but came back to floor Ruiz in round five and earned the victory after swarming the staggered Ruiz. Time of the stoppage was 2:34.
Undefeated lightweight prospect Alejandro Luna, (19-0, 14KOs), of Bellflower, California, dominated and stopped veteran Sergio Lopez, (18-9-1,12 KOs) in the fourth round. A barrage of punches resulted in the onslaught being stopped at the 0:34 mark.
To the roar of the huge crowd at STAPLES Center, Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo, 24-5 (19 KO’s), of Mexicali, Mexico, battered Hector Munoz, (22-16-1 (14KO’s) over five rounds of their scheduled ten round clash. With power punches from all angles, Angulo bloodied Munoz and dropped him in the fifth. Following that stanza, Munoz did not come out for round six with Angulo being awarded the well-deserved victory.
Local fan favorite Jessie Roman (20-2, 9 KOs) continued to impress with a dominant eight round unanimous decision over Huntington Beach, California’s Hector Serrano, 17-5 (5KO’s). Dropping Serrano in the seventh, Roman went on to win a unanimous decision by scores of 79-72 on all three scorecards.
Fighting out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Brian Castano, 13-0 (9KO’s) was awarded a victory by disqualification over Jonathan Batista, 14-7, (7KO’s) at the 1:15 mark of the fifth round. After being dropped in the second round, Batista continuously resorted to low blows over the balance of the bout. Points were deducted from Batista three times over the third and fourth rounds before another low blow in the fifth resulted in the stoppage.
Middleweight prospect Alan Castano of Buenos Aires, Argentina making his U.S. debut improved to 9-0, (6KO’s) with a fourth round knockout of the valiant Thomas Howard, 8-5 (4KO’s) of Trenton, Michigan. Although not knocked down, Howard absorbed the full array of punches from Castano prior to the bout being stopped at the 2:11 mark of the fourth stanza.
Welterweights were featured in a six round bout as welterweight Anthony Flores, (9-0, 5 KOs), of Los Angeles, California won a majority decision over Curtis Morton, (3-5-3) of Harlem, NY. The battle featuring excellent two-way action throughout was scored 58-56 twice for Flores and 57-57.
In a scheduled ten round super middleweight bout, contender Paul Mendez, (20-2-2, 10 KOs) dropped Andrik Saralegui (19-3, 15 KOs), of Los Mochis, New Mexcio, twice in the second round. The Delano, California native earned the stoppage, as Saralegui did not answer the bell for round three.
Bantamweights were featured in the second bout as Isaiah Najera (1-1), of Yakima, Washington upset the pro debuting Antonio Santa Cruz (0-1), of Los Angeles, California via majority decision. Scores were 39-37 twice for Najera and 38-38. Antonio is the younger cousin of headliner Leo Santa Cruz.
In the opening bout of the afternoon, a four round lightweight clash, Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, CA improved to 3-0 with a spirited unanimous decision over Manual Rubalcava (2-14), of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Scores were 40-36 on all scorecards.
Here is what the fighters had to say:
Leo Santa Cruz:
“I was surprised Abner came out so strong. He came right at me but we figured him out and we got the win.
“I stayed outside with the jab. We were able to take control.
“My dad told me that we could beat him by boxing. We want to be aggressive but tonight we had to box him too and that’s how we got it done.
“If he wants the rematch I’ll give him the rematch. I want to fight the best. I want the big fights.
“I’m very happy. This is a dream come true. I’m happy and excited and thankful to all of my fans who supported me.”
“It was a close fight, but I thought I won the fight. I thought I pulled it off.
“My plan was to box him, but I started out really fast. I felt good but my corner told me to box more, so I did that. It was a good fight.
“Leo is good. He’s a great fighter. I knew it was going to be a tough fight.
“I’m more than willing to have a rematch. It was a close fight. I knew he had never faced a fighter like me and he proved today he’s a great fighter.
“The fans were the winners tonight. It was a great fight for the fans. I think I deserve a rematch and I think the fans deserve another show.
“It was my mistake. I started really good, but along the way I changed my plan for some weird reason and I don’t know why I did it.”
“I was well prepared, but I was surprised I got dropped. I felt mentally and physically good after that and I knew I was going to come back.
“At first it was difficult because Ruiz was moving too much, however I knew I was going to win.
“I hope Leo Santa Cruz goes back up to super bantamweight so I can fight him next.”
“I feel really good. I worked and used my jab. I’ve never used my jab too much and tonight I tried to use it more and more and more.”
“When I fought in June, it had been a long time since I fought and I was fighting in a new weight class. To be honest, I was nervous and today I was more comfortable.”
“I could tell the the fans were behind me tonight and they motivate me to work even harder in each fight.”
Santa Cruz vs. Mares, a 12-round featherweight bout on Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN on Saturday, August 29 aired live from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and was promoted by TGB Promotions.