StubHub Center, Carson, California– Saturday was to be the affirmation of Abner Mares’ (26-1-1, 14 KOs) status as a true world class presence and shining star in the Golden Boy stable, making the first defense of his WBC featherweight belt, but veteran Jhonny Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KOs) came along and ruined everything with a picture-perfect left hand in the very first round.
The possibility of a KO upset had to be in the back of everyone’s mind– Gonzalez is that good and that strong– but it seemed almost unreasonable to even imagine. This was Mares’ time and, upon entering the ring at the StubHub center, he appeared to be as close to invincible as humanly possible in boxing.
After a cautious opening two minutes, Mares opted to press the attack, leaving himself open for the left hand that would drop him at the thirty-six second mark and eventually lead to the end of the bout seconds later.
Mares would beat the count after his first knockdown, but was clearly buzzed and on wobbly legs. Seconds later, he would be sent to the canvas again by an assortment of solid punches and not be allowed to even try and beat the count. Referee Jack Reiss would wave off the contest with six seconds left in the first round.
The 31-year-old Gonzalez, who regains the featherweight title he lost via cut-shortened technical decision to Daniel Ponce de Leon last September, was nothing but complimentary to former sparring partner, Mares, calling the loss little more than a speed bump in 27-year-old Mares’ career.
The now three-time world champ would also describe Saturday’s victory as “the single greatest and most glorious moment” of his life.
In the Showtime televised opener, 25-year-old Leo Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 KOs) became a two-division world champ via third round stoppage over tough defending WBC junior featherweight champ Victor Terrazas (37-3-1, 21 KOs).
Looking stronger than ever, former bantamweight titlist, Santa Cruz, merely did what he does best– apply offense and wait for his opponent to wilt under the pressure.
In this case, the process didn’t take long as constant pressure led to a left hook in the third round that sent Terrazas to the canvas. The defending champ would beat the count, but be sent right back down by a straight right hand moments later.
On unsteady legs and with a completely closed right eye, the bout was waved off at the 2:09 mark of the third round.