RINGSIDE REPORT Gonzalez KOs Mares, Santa Cruz Takes Title
CARSON-Mexico City’s Jhonny Gonzalez upset WBC featherweight champion Abner Mares by knockout in the first round and the WBC junior featherweight title also changed hands as Leo Santa Cruz ended things early too on Saturday
Former featherweight champion Gonzalez (55-8, 47 Kos) came to the U.S. a decided underdog despite numerous world titles since 2005 and knocked out Mares (26-1-1, 14 Kos). More than 7,000 fans were shocked at the results at the StubHub Center, formerly known as Home Depot Center.
On this cool summer evening, Gonzalez caught Mares with a wicked left hook on the chin and down he went early in round one.
“I knew I had him hurt off the first knockdown,” said Gonzalez. “The question was do I go after him.”
Mares shakily got up and was quickly met by a Gonzalez barrage of blows and delivered his own barrage. Gonzalez caught Mares with a strong right hand and down he went hard. Referee Jack Reiss didn’t bother to count and stopped the fight at 2:05 of the first round.
“I’m cool. The ref did his job,” said Mares, who seemed still groggy after the fight.
Gonzalez immediately went to Mares and hugged the former champion. It was the fighter from Mexico City’s crown achievement despite multiple world titles since 2005.
“At this moment it’s the single greatest and most glorious moment in my life,” said Gonzalez, who is friends with Mares. “When I came to the U.S. for this fight nobody gave me any credit. All they talked about was Mares fighting Santa Cruz.”
A disgruntled fan tossed beer at Gonzalez, who merely pointed to his brand new world title belt.
“Everybody thought I was finished,” said Gonzalez, 31. “Nobody believed in me.”
Mares smiled at the new champion despite enduring his first pro loss.
“I’m in this sport not to remain undefeated, but to fight the best,” Mares said.
In the co-main event Leo “Terremoto” Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 Kos) gathered another world title with a quick two-round demolition of WBC junior featherweight titlist Victor “Vikingo” Terrazas (37-3-1, 21 Kos) of Guadalajara.
The fresh-faced terror from East Los Angeles once again mowed through another champion with a pressure style that had Terrazas on his heels from the beginning. Some energy sapping body shots by Santa Cruz opened up the first round in his favor.
“Terrazas is a great fighter and I knew I had to pressure him in order to bring him down cause he’s a tough fighter,” said Santa Cruz.
In round two Santa Cruz traded uppercuts with Terrazas who emerged with a swollen eye from the brutal exchange. It quickly swelled into the size of a soft boiled egg under his right eye. Just before the bell Santa Cruz staggered the champion with a right cross.
Terrazas entered round three with a nasty swelling under his right eye and Santa Cruz went into attack mode. A double left hook sent Terrazas to the floor as the referee counted. The champion got up and was met with thudding left hook to the body and an overhand right that delivered him to the canvas again. Terrazas got up but referee Lou Moret looked into his eyes and stopped the fight at 2:09 of round three for a knockout win for Santa Cruz.
“I was not expecting a knockout this early in the fight,” said Santa Cruz, 25. “Terrazas is a great fighter, a warrior.”
The deposed champion was classy in defeat.
“The eye was not a problem. This was a good fight. I was enjoying the fight and I thought it was close,” said Terrazas, who was making the first defense of the title he won this past April. “He was tough like I expected. He just caught me with a good shot.”
San Diego’s Antonio Orozco (18-0, 14 Kos) used a concentrated body attack to sap the strength and energy level of Colombia’s Ivan Hernandez (29-4, 22 Kos). Orozco scored two knockdowns with a blistering body attack in the third round and ended Hernandez’s fight at 1:39 of round three. Orozco is considered one of the rising stars in the junior welterweight division.
In a show-stopping performance former U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. (7-0, 5 Kos) impressed a sun-filled crowd with his pinpoint punching and surgical accuracy in knocking out Arizona’s Noel Mendoza (6-3-1) in the third round. Diaz fired a crisp left cross-left uppercut combination to floor Mendoza. Then, a left cross-right hook from the southpaw Diaz ended the night for Mendoza at 1:54 of the third round. Diaz lives and trains in South El Monte.
Heavyweight prospect Dominic Breazeale (6-0, 6 Kos) withstood some vicious blows below the belt from Jamaica’s Lenroy Thomas (16-3, 8 Kos) and rallied to win by knockout at 2:29 of round four. Breazeale is a former U.S. Olympian.
East L.A.’s Juan Ramirez (9-0, 6 Kos) opened up with all barrels against Mexico’s Abraham Rubio (3-1-1) in the opening bell and forced a stoppage at 2:58 of the first round of a featherweight bout.