Abner Mares, Santa Cruz Keeps Titles at Staples

MareesMorel Hogan22LOS ANGELES-WBC junior featherweight titleholder Abner Mares always finds a way to win and once again proved his adapability by winning a unanimous decision victory against the fleet Anselmo Moreno of Panama on Saturday. Mares was like a relentless pit bull.

Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs) retained the title against Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs) in front of a partisan crowd at the Staples Center that saw a number of action-packed fights on the Golden Boy Promotions fight card.

The Southern California based prizefighter proved against the elusive Moreno that he could adapt but it was not easy.

Mares came out aggressively and caught Moreno was some combinations. The Panamanian fighter tried to hold but the Californian would not allow it and continued punching in round one.

The second round saw Mares pursue and exchange whenever he was close to Moreno. Body shot after body shot was rained on the Panamanian. A counter left hook by Mares connected big for the champion. Moreno also landed a counter left cross.

Moreno seemed to find his rhythm in the third round with some long counter left hands that connected. Mares returned to the body and a counter left hook landed in a very close round. Moreno looked more comfortable.

The titleholder Mares stepped on the gas in round four with some relentless pursuit and combinations to the head and body. A low blow by Mares stopped the fight, but when it resumed Mares attacked furiously until the end of the round.

Mares kept the pressure on Moreno and caught him with a right to the chin that the Panamanian never saw. Slowly he went down and looked groggy but got up to finish the round in round five. It was Mares in pursuit until the end. It was Moreno's first time ever on his knees.

“He had never been down so that felt good,” said Mares of his knockdown of Moreno.

The Panamanian had no excuse.

“I got careless when I went down,” said Moreno.

The overhand rights connected big time for Mares in round six as Moreno tried to rally from the previous round. Mares trapped Moreno in the corner for what seemed 30 seconds and landed some big overhand rights again.

“I could tell he felt my power and aggression,” Mares said.

Despite a low blow that slowed the fight in round seven it was the Panamanian's best round in a while as he landed a perfect three-punch combination. Mares landed some combos too in a very close and competitive round.

It was the real men's round as both fighters stood in the corner and bombed away. A sizzling right hand counter sent Moreno flying across the ring with Mares in quick pursuit in round eight. But he couldn't muster enough to keep the Panamanian from recovering quickly.

“He did take advantage when I took too long,” Mares said. “He's a super champion he knew me well.”

Both fighters exchanged combinations to the head and body in round nine with Mares landing the counter right and Moreno landing the counter right hook. Both exchanged evenly.

Mares used the jab effectively in a slower round. When the action picked up it was the body attack and counter rights that connected for the champion. Moreno had some moments but not as many as Mares in round 10.

A point deduction for holding and pulling cost Moreno the round as he caught Mares with some good body shots but didn't win round 11.

Both fired away with conviction in the final round but their weariness proved to make them sloppy. Mares connected with some counter rights and Moreno used some stiff jabs and right hooks but neither had enough power to hurt the other.

All three judges scored it for Mares 116-110 twice by judges Marty Denkin and David Sutherland while judge James Jen Kin scored it 120-106.

IBF champ Santa Cruz Wins

IBF bantamweight titleholder Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz performed his usual seek and destroy battle plan against Mexico's super tough Victor Zaleta and once again it was a fight filled with enough blows to fill two fights.

East L.A.'s Santa Cruz fought toe to toe in the first two rounds with Zaleta who quickly discovered that he could not match the champion's furious pace. He began to box and move but Santa Cruz pursued with relentless fury and caught the Mexican fighter with shots to the body that echoed in the arena and resulted in two knockdowns in seven rounds.

It seemed Zaleta would quit but he never seemed to look for a way out and tried hardily to return fire. Santa Cruz was just too strong.

“I have the heart and blood of a Mexican fighter,” said Zaleta (20-3-1, 10 KOs).

Round nine saw Santa Cruz even more aggressive but Zaleta tried for a knockout blow and during an exchange of right hands, it was Santa Cruz who connected perfectly to the chin with a counter right cross. Down went Zaleta for a knockout. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight at 1:42 of the round.

“He was a strong fighter,” said Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13 KOs). “I finally caught him and he went down.”

Santa Cruz was ahead on all three score cards 80-70 twice and 79-71 once.

The lanky pressure fighter said he wants to move up a weight division in two or three fights.

Angulo

One punch proved that Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (21-2, 18 KOs) is back when he connected during a furious exchange to knock out Raul “El Tigre” Casarez (19-3, 9 KOs) with a left hook. It is perhaps the knockout of the year and Angulo ended the fight in 56 seconds to win his first fight of 2012.

“I knew the dog was going to come back,” said Angulo. “We worked a lot on defense.”

Angulo said he could fight in 20 minutes if necessary.

WBO champion Cleverly

WBO light heavyweight titleholder Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12 KOs) of Wales was too fast, too strong and too much for South Dakota's Shawn Hawk (22-3-1, 16 KOs) who did well until the body shots began. The two fought rather evenly with Cleverly landing more and just enough to win every round. But beginning in round seven a flurry of body blows caused a sink in Hawk's knees and down he went twice in that round. The eight round saw Cleverly go back to the body and twice more Hawks sunk to the canvas. Referee Tony Crebs ended the fight at 1:33 of the round.

“It was a great experience. He was a tough opponent but I eventually broke him down and it paid off and I got the victory,” said Cleverly fighting for the first time in the U.S.A. “I like to take risks but I got caught with too many punches.”

Other bouts

San Diego's Antonio Orozco (16-0, 12 KOs) stopped Riverside's Danny Escobar (8-2, 5 KOs) after six rounds of brutal back and forth punching. An Orozco left hook caught Escobar flush and the San Diego powerhouse followed up with six more blows to end the fight by knockout at 2:06 of round six in the junior welterweight clash.

“This was a great learning experience,” said Orozco, who is managed by Frank Espinoza. “I'm ready for the next one.”

Former amateur star Chris Pearson (6-0, 5 KOs) needed only 44 seconds to end the battle of left-handers with Jeremy Marts (8-13, 6 KOs) in a junior middleweight fight. Pearson's speed was apparent and he used it wisely against the aggressive Marks who didn't see the blow.

Northern California's Alonso Loeza (3-7-1) upset Zach “Kid Yamika” Wohlman (4-1-1) with a come-from-behind knockout rally at 17 seconds of round four in a welterweight fight. Wohlman was ahead after two rounds but spent a lot of energy attempting to knock out the rugged Loeza. A right hand dropped Wohlman at the end of round three who beat the count but was wobbly returning to his corner. Loeza poured on the blows in the fourth and referee John Taylor stopped the fight.

Montebello's David Reyes (2-2-1) upset Texan Isaac Torres's (2-0-1) winning streak in getting a majority draw after four rounds. Torres started strong but was confused by Reyes' movement especially in the last two rounds. The scores were 39-37 Torres and 38-38 twice for the majority draw.

Robert Easter (1-0) of Cincinnati used a body attack to soften up Nebraska's Eddie Corona (0-2) before pummeling him and forcing the referee to stop the lightweight fight at 2:39 of round two. It was Easter's pro debut.

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