Two young guns signed a contract to see who was king of their turf, the boxing ruler of Los Angeles at the lighter weights. Featherweight hitters Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares had both been buzzed about, hit some road blocks and pot holes and came to this fight after those vocational hiccups. A loss here could be a pretty harsh career setback, being that the route to here hasn't been without drama. After ten rounds at the Staples Center, it was Santa Cruz who emerged as the area leader. He used his height edge, his reach edge, and his potent jab abd sneaky left hooks spoke to the judges.
The scores read thusly: 117-111,117-111 and 114-114.
There were no knockdowns, and while the crowd stayed invested, and the commentators enthused, the fight was solid, decent, good but not great. Volume was high but neither man's power was a difference maker.
LSC went 373-1057 to 227-980. Santa Cruz is 27, and came in 30-0-1. He's been busted upon for not demanding step up fights, marquee bouts, bragging rights bouts. He dumped Cameron Dunkin for Al Haymon a couple years ago and some say that switch slowed down his momentum.
The 29 year old Mares, also born in Mexico and residing in Cali, tasted more tangible pain as a pro. He didn't get heat on message boards, he got stoped out, in round one of a 126 title defense against Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013. He's won three straight but does he have that same swagger?
In the first, Mares was the come forward fella. He then waved LSC forward, grinned, looked to be dialed in, having fun. In the second, LSC shook his right, snapped a jab, now came forward, and Mares was less busy. They traded end of round. The Mares corner asked for more boxing, not fighting, after the round. In the third, Mares did look to work from outside, look for a smart opening. What's new, they traded late in the round. LSC caught Mares lunging in with a sweet right upper, maybe the best punch of the round. We saw blood on both faces now…In the fourth, Mares flurried to the body, then slid out. He waved LSC forward, bounced, moved, maybe won the round.
In the fifth, it was another super-tight round. The LSC corner asked for lead rights after…In round six, LSC had luck with the jab. Mares flurried and ate a counter left. To round eight…Mares bulled and brawled more. He jabbed to the belly button. The crowd buzzed at a Mares launch, then he got smacked, and they stepped it up with 20 seconds left. Round nine saw LSC land a sneaky left hook. He landed, maybe, the cleaner, harder shots.
In the tenth, Mares had a bloody mask, and ate left hooks. He was losing the fight…In round 11, they were both still busy. Round 12, the crowd chanted. Mares banged to the body, and LSC stayed smart. We went to the cards…