Featherweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz hosted a media workout in Los Angeles Tuesday as he prepares for his world title rematch against four-time world champion Abner Mares Saturday, June 9 live on SHOWTIME from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will also feature unbeaten super welterweight world champion Jermell Charlo defending his title against former world champion Austin Trout.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports and TGB Promotions, begin at $50, plus applicable fees, and are on sale now. To purchase tickets visit AXS.com
Santa Cruz and Mares first battled in August 2015 at STAPLES Center with Santa Cruz earning the majority decision and a vacant featherweight title. The consensus top-five featherweights will look to put on a repeat of the performance that saw them throw over 2,000 punches combined.
Santa Cruz was joined at City of Angels Boxing Tuesday by his father and trainer, Jose Santa Cruz, and Ringstar Sports Chairman and CEO Richard Schaefer. Here is what they had to say Tuesday:
LEO SANTA CRUZ
“I think Abner has looked better in recent fights, but not so much that he looks unbeatable or anything. He’s shown some improvements but I feel I’ve gotten much better as well. It’s going to be a great fight and I’m going to come out victorious.
“He says he’s going to box me more this time, but it’s easier to say that than do it. When you get in the ring and hear the fans, they make you want to brawl. Once you hear the crowd you want to entertain them. You love to hear the people scream.
“I’m going to try to go out there and give the fans a great fight like I always do. I feel like I’m in great condition right now. I feel a lot stronger and even my dad has told me this is as good as he’s seen me look.
“I’ve learned a lot since the first Mares fight. I’ve learned how to adjust during a fight better. I’m a more complete fighter and it’s going to help me look even better this time.
“I’m still as motivated as ever. I have the same hunger as if this fight was for my first title. I never underestimate anyone and always give it my all in the gym. It’s no different heading into this one.
“We’re going to try to win bigger this time but I’ll be ready to go 12 rounds. I’d definitely love to stop him. If the knockout comes it comes, and if I see an opening I’m going to take advantage.
“I try to motivate my dad as much as I can by training hard. He says he’s happiest when I’m working hard so I just keeping trying to push it every day and make sure he’s happy.
“The two fights with Frampton definitely made me a better fighter. They gave me a lot of experience and I learned a lot from those fights. I know I’m going to be a better fighter for this fight than the first time we fought.
“We always prepare for 12 rounds. I’ve been going 13 rounds in sparring because my dad always likes to go one extra. This has been one of the best camps we’ve had as far as conditioning and sparring.
“I am ready to unify with any of the featherweight champions. Me and Gary Russell Jr. fought in the amateurs. He beat me but it was a good fight and I believe I can beat him. I know the tactics I’d use. Hopefully I can get my rematch.
“We’re focused on improving everything in camp. We’re working on my power, speed, foot work and all of the skills it will take to win this rematch.”
JOSE SANTA CRUZ, Leo’s Father & Trainer
“The first fight with Mares was a bit rough and even dirty at times. After four rounds I felt like they were stealing the fight from us so I told Leo to tire him out and show that he’s the better boxer. The results of the fight proved that.
“There are a lot of great fighters out there but not many have good defensive techniques and that is where every fighter can improve. With my kids and with Leo I have always trained him to be good defensively because anyone can throw punches but not everyone can take a punch and keep going. I have always loved this sport but I love to win even more. Leo is still growing but I think he’s the best fighter at featherweight right now.
“I definitely think that Mares will come with new skills to this fight and have a different approach with his new trainer now that he’s with Robert Garcia. I think he’ll try to box more and look to get us on the counterpunch.”
RICHARD SCHAEFER, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports
“Leo is the kind of fighter who always rises to the occasion and always finds a way to come out victorious. It’s really a 50-50 fight. I can give you a lot of reasons why both guys are going to win. It’s the best fight on June 9 and it’s one of the best fights you’re going to see this year.
“Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares are never going to be in a boring fight. They create special action and drama in the ring. The winners are going to be the fight fans every time.
“This is an important fight for both of these guys. It’s about bragging rights in Los Angeles and in the loaded featherweight division. I know that it’s going to bring out the best in both fighters.
“Leo won a very narrow decision that could have gone either way, but Leo pulled it out in the first fight. Abner and Robert Garcia have meshed really well and Robert has been able to bring the best out of Abner. He’s going to give Leo Santa Cruz a great challenge again and with the fight in Los Angeles, the fans will definitely propel both guys to go extra hard.
“These are the kind of fights that fans love. This is the kind of fight that transcends boxing. These are two fighters who are just incapable of being in a boring fight. They put people on their feet.”