Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz ready to rumble Aug. 29 at Staples Center

Leo Santa Cruz, left, and Abner Mares engage in the traditional staredown following their news conference Tuesday at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood/Photo by Craig Bennett, TGB Promotions

 

LYNWOOD – Fights between L.A.-area boxers have always commanded a lot of attention, especially when they are contested in Los Angeles. Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens and Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights will be hard-pressed to live up to Danny “Little Red” Lopez-Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon in 1974 at the Sports Arena and Albert “Tweety” Davila-Frankie Duarte in 1977 at the Olympic Auditorium.

But they figure to give it a heck of a try.

Mares and Santa Cruz on Tuesday at Plaza Mexico played host to a news conference to formally announce their Aug. 29 featherweight fight at Staples Center (on
ESPN).

Mares has won titles in the bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight divisions. Santa Cruz has won championships in the bantamweight and super
bantamweight divisions.

There will be no major belt on the line in this one. With their credentials, it doesn’t matter.

“This is the biggest fight of my career – I think the biggest and the hardest,” said the 26-year-old Santa Cruz, who attended Lincoln High. “And to fight here at Staples Center in my hometown is a big privilege and an honor for me.

“So I have to leave everything on the line. I have to be 100 percent prepared. He has a lot of fans here, too, in Southern California. I think (it will be) like 50-50, so this fight is going to show who is the king of L.A.”

The aforementioned fights from yesteryear were mentioned to Mares. He then made a bold statement about this fight.

“It’s up there, man, it’s up there,” said Mares, 29; he attended Artesia High. “I’m not just saying it. I think we’re going to prove it come Aug. 29. Leo Santa Cruz is not known for being a guy that holds, he’s not known for his boxing skills, he’s just known for a fighter that comes forward and throws a volume of punches, and vice versa.

“I’m known as a warrior, I’m known as a guy that’s been in many fights, many wars. So I think when you two put fighters like that with those styles, it just turns out to be one of the best fights in decades. I think it’s going to turn out to be one of those (Arturo) Gatti-(Micky) Ward-type fights.”

The two sparred together some years ago, but neither would say he got the better of the other. There were some comments that seemed to stir a pot that could be
boiling by Aug. 29.

Mares is 29-1-1 with 15 knockouts. After making the only defense of his super bantamweight belt with a victory over Anselmo Moreno, Mares moved up in weight and took the featherweight title from Daniel Ponce De Leon on May 2013 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

But Mares was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez at StubHub Center that August. Mares has since won three consecutive fights, though he has not been overly impressive. Santa Cruz believes Mares is not the same fighter he was before the Gonzalez fight.

“I have seen his last three fights and, no, he hasn’t been the same guy as before,” Santa Cruz said. “But he knows this is a really important fight and he
knows that he has a lot to lose in this fight, so I know he’s going to come prepared.”

Of the left hook Gonzalez landed that hurt Mares so badly, Santa Cruz went so far as to say, “It looks like he still has that punch right there in his head.”

Mares scoffed.

“My response to that is that, keep thinking that,” Mares said. “I’m not going to tell him otherwise. Keep thinking that. He’s going to have his thoughts in his mind, you know, that are brought to him by his team.

“He should be concentrating more about what I’m bringing to the ring, than what I’m thinking about my defeat, you know what I’m  saying?”

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Hawaiian Gardens’ Abner Mares ready to rumble again, fights July 12 in Las Vegas

Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens has suffered just one loss in his professional career, but it was a devastating one. It happened Aug. 24, when he lost his featherweight world title when he was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico at StubHub Center in Carson.

Mares has not fought since, but he’ll lace up the gloves again when he takes on Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo (24-3, 16 KOs) in the featherweight semi-main event July 12 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime pay-per-view). Headlining will be former super welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico taking on Erislandy Lara of Cuba.

When Mares (26-1-1, 14 KOs) steps in the ring against Oquendo, it will have been nearly 11 months since he was demolished by Gonzalez. Mares claims he is ready to rumble.

“It’s been a long time, but I can’t wait to step into the ring and hear my name called again,” Mares, 28, said. “Jonathan Oquendo is a respectable fighter and I know he’s coming to win. But  he is in the way of another world title, so I have to get him out of there.”

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Abner Mares looking to get healthy and get rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez

Although it’s been known for a week that the scheduled Feb. 15 rematch between featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico and Abner Mares at Staples Center has been postponed because of a rib injury suffered by Mares in training, Golden Boy Promotions made it official in  news release in which Mares expressed how bummed out he was about it.

“I’d like to apologize to all of my fans, Golden Boy Promotions and Jhonny Gonzalez,” said Hawaiian Gardens’  Mares, who lost his title to Gonzalez when Gonzalez stunningly knocked him out in the first round in August at StubHub Center. “I was looking forward to getting back into the ring with Jhonny to avenge my loss.

“And once I recover from this injury, I’ll be back in the gym and ready for this rematch as soon as possible.”

No new date for the bout has been given and one won’t be until Mares has been cleared to train.

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Abner Mares sustains rib injury, rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez postponed

Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens sustained a rib injury during training for his rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez that was scheduled for Feb. 15 at Staples Center, postponing the bout, according to several reports

The two tangled Aug. 24 at StubHub Center for Mares’ featherweight world title, Gonzalez stunningly knocking out Mares in the first round and taking the belt.

No new date has been given.

 

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Abner Mares will get another shot at Jhonny Gonzalez on Feb. 15 at Staples Center

It was quite a shocker when Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico knocked out Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens in the first round to take Mares’ featherweight title on Aug. 24 at StubHub Center. Now, Mares will get the chance to avenge that loss when he challenges Gonzalez for that title Feb. 15 at Staples Center (on Showtime).

Mares can’t wait.

“I’d like to thank Jhonny Gonzalez for this opportunity. It will be an honor to fight him a second time,” Mares said.  “Aug. 24 was his night and I take nothing away from him, but Feb. 15 will be my night and I’m going to get my title back.”

Gonzalez doesn’t think so.

:”Abner Mares gave me my shot and now I’m giving him his,” he said.  “I respect what he’s done in the ring and the heart he shows every time he fights, but I worked too hard for this to give it up now.  I will keep my title on Feb. 15.”

Mares, 28, is 26-1-1 with 14 knockouts. Gonzalez, 32, is 55-8 with 47 knockouts.

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Oscar De La Hoya raves about Saturday’s main event at StubHub Center

Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens has become one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. The Artesia High graduate has won titles in the bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight divisions and Saturday will defend his featherweight belt against former featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico at StubHub Center (on Showtime).

At Thursday’s final news conference, Oscar De La Hoya spoke highly of this main event.

“For the boxing fans in L.A., this is what boxing is all about and this is what they deserve,” said De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “Abner Mares is a special talent that we are witnessing in our era. He’s a talent that doesn’t come around very often. He’s fought nothing but the best. We all know Gonzalez. He’s a machine who is a tough puncher and a very calculated puncher. Jhonny knows this is his opportunity. Everybody knows that.”

Mares, who recently bought a house in Downey, is 26-0-1 with 14 knockouts. Gonzalez is 54-8 with 46 knockouts. Gonzalez lost his belt to Daniel Ponce De Leon in September 2012. Mares in turn took it from De Leon in May in Las Vegas.

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Three-division champion Abner Mares still embraces fighting near home

Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens has fought several times in the greater Southern California area at places like Staples Center, Club Nokia and Honda Center. But the Artesia High graduate never gets tired of toiling in his neck of the woods.

Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs), who has won world titles in the bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight divisions, on Aug. 24 will defend his featherweight belt against former champion Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico at StubHub Center (formerly Home Depot Center).

“I’m looking forward to fighting in front of my hometown fans on Aug. 24 at StubHub Center,” Mares said at a news conference Thursday. “Jhonny Gonzalez and I have a lot of respect for each other, but we know what’s at stake. I’m confident that we’re going to put on an explosive fight that fans will want to see.”

Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) used to hold the title Mares now holds.

“The belt belongs to me,” Gonzalez said. “It’s time it returns to my waist. I will give it everything I’ve got on Aug. 24.”

The Golden Boy Promotions card will be televised by Showtime.

 

 

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Tickets for Abner Mares-Jhonny Gonzalez at StubHub Center go on sale Saturday

Tickets for the Aug. 24 featherweight title fight between champion Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens and Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico at StubHub Center (formerly Home Depot Center) will go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. (PST).

Mares, 27, is quickly becoming one of the most dominant fighters in boxing. He has won titles in three weight classes – bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight – and has become a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter. He is 26-0-1 with 14 knockouts.

Gonzalez, 31, is a former bantamweight and featherweight champion. He is 54-8 with 46 knockouts.

Their bout will be televised by Showtime.

Tickets are priced at $25, $50, $75 and $150. They can be purchased by calling 888-929-7849, going online at AXS.com or through the StubHub Center box office.

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