The long-gestating rematch between Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, WBA Super) and Abner Mares (30-2-1) is about to get underway. According to the Los Angeles Times, both Santa Cruz and Mares will be featured on an PBC on FOX card taking individual tune ups ahead of their inevitable rematch from their memorable, albeit one-sided first encounter in 2015.
Back then, Santa Cruz was taking the biggest step up in class in his career against former three-division champion Mares and easily out boxed the more aggressive Mares to pick up the WBA Featherweight title via majority decision. Due to the competitive nature of their first fight and their large fan bases, a rematch was expected down the line, but both men took different paths that ultimately will bring them together again with much higher stakes than before.
Santa Cruz defending his title by crushing Kiko Martinez following the fight and then battled Carl Frampton in one of 2016’s best fights, suffering his first career defeat. The two would have a rematch five months later and Santa Cruz made the necessary adjustments to subdue Frampton and regain his title. Santa Cruz will defend his title against division trial horse Chris Avalos (27-5) who has gone 2-3 in his last five fights.
Mares was inactive for nearly a year following the Santa Cruz bout, but toppled the undefeated Jesus Cuellar to get himself back in the mix for the Santa Cruz rematch. Inactivity has been an issue with Mares, fighting only twice over the course of the last 22 months. To shake off the rust and put in a good showing before their inevitable rematch, Mares faces off against Andreas Gutierrez who has a deceptive record of 35-1-1 and is two fights removed from his only loss against the ancient Cristian Mijares.
Though both Santa Cruz and Mares are needing a tune up after so long, are these squash matches necessary enough to take up a live TV slot? Especially on such a big network like FOX when Fox Sports 1 is the usual dumping ground for fights like this? The questionable move will be answered soon enough as the bouts are both scheduled on October 14 at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA.