As usual, Abner Mares about to take on another top opponent – Jesus Cuellar

Abner Mares

Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions


Abner Mares has always been that fighter you want to see do well. He is never looking to fight a patsy. He wants to tangle with only the meanest hombres. It’s his credo.

“Definitely, definitely,” said Mares, of Hawaiian Gardens. “It will grab people’s attention and that’s the key point I want to make. I’m the type of fighter that wants to leave his career known as the fighter that never took an easy route and faced the tough fighters at their moment, at their times. And God willing, always came out on top.

“It’s not always going to be the same as my last fight. It was a great fight, a fight against Leo that I didn’t win, but I got the respect from people.”

Mares has a tough list of opponents adorning his ring record. In his most recent start, he lost a grueling 12-round decision to fellow Angeleno Leo Santa Cruz in a battle for a vacant featherweight title in August at Staples Center.

Mares, who has won titles in three weight classes, dusted himself off and has for the past several weeks been preparing himself for yet another top-line fighter by the name of Jesus Cuellar of Argentina. Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) on June 25 will challenge Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) for his featherweight world title at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on CBS, 6 p.m. Pacific time).

This is a crossroads fight for Mares. At 30, he is getting to that age when a fighter in the lighter weights begins to show the wear and tear of many ring wars. Even though he distinguished himself respectfully enough against Santa Cruz, Mares changed trainers, going from Clemente Medina to Robert Garcia.

Mares wants to know what he has left, and apparently he believes the best way to find out is to take on champions.

“Well, definitely what I want to prove to myself is that I still belong in this level type of fight against top fighters such as Cuellar, Leo or any other top-flight featherweight,” Mares said.

“And I think the reason that, my two defeats, when you just go through them real quick, first-round knockout against Jhonny Gonzalez (in August 2013). It was just, he caught me cold.

“My fight against Leo Santa Cruz, it was a tough fight. We went 12 rounds, it was a candidate for Fight of the Year, where I gave it my all but at the end of the day, I think I fought the wrong game plan. I think I defeated myself by not following instructions and not fighting a perfect plan.”

Mares, an Artesia High graduate, is certain he still has the goods.

“I’ve got a lot more to give, I’m going to show (it),” he said. “Now with my new trainer and the new mindset that I have, I think I’m going to prove just that.”

But again, Mares is trying to prove he’s still elite against a hard-hitting southpaw world champion whose only loss came nearly five years ago. Cuellar spoke like this could quickly turn into a toe-to-toe slugfest, so he must have something up his sleeve.

“We’re going to come out,” Cuellar said. “We’ve been training for this fight and we’re doing it on our strategies. We’ve been working on them. For this fight, if the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to take the fight to him.”


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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

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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Leo Santa Cruz wins decision over Jose Cayetano in Saturday’s semi-main

The semi-main event Saturday underneath Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao featured super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights taking on Jose Cayetano of Tijuana in a non-title fight in the featherweight division.

Even though Santa Cruz was moving up in weight, he figured to have an easy time of it as Cayetano (17-4) is not in his class. Santa Cruz (30-0-1) did in the sense that he won big on the scorecards – he won by three scores of 100-90. But fans seemed a bit restless that he could not stop Cayetano inside the distance.

There were a few boos.

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Lincoln Heights’ Leo Santa Cruz defends title with 8th-round TKO of Jesus Ruiz

Leo Santa Cruz/Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions


Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights defended his super bantamweight world title Saturday with a eighth-round TKO of Jesus Ruiz of Mexico underneath the heavyweight title fight between Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder.

There were no knockdowns, but Santa Cruz was pummeling Ruiz (32-6-5) on the ropes before referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to halt the bout.

Santa Cruz is now 29-0-1 with 17 knockouts.

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Leo Santa Cruz to defend title against Cesar Seda in November in San Antonio

Leo Santa Cruz of the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles on Nov. 30 will defend his super bantamweight title against Cesar Seda of Puerto Rico at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio (on Showtime).

It will be the semi-main event to the welterweight title fight between champion Devon Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs) of St. Louis and Shawn Porter (22-0-1, 14 KOs) of Akron, Ohio.

Santa Cruz, 25, at 25-0-1 with 15 knockouts has yet to taste defeat. He doesn’t plan on tasting it in this fight, either.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and making my debut in Texas against Cesar Seda,” said Santa Cruz, who has never fought in the state of Texas. “Seda is a quality fighter and a top contender, but I’m not ready to give up my belt to him or anyone.”

Seda, 27, is 25-1 with 17 knockouts. He respects Santa Cruz, but apparently does not fear him.

“I admire Santa Cruz for his talent and his accomplishments,” Seda said. “But styles make fights and I have the style to beat him and bring the world championship back to Puerto Rico.”

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Victor Terrazas knows Leo Santa Cruz will have most of the fans Saturday

Victor Terrazas of Mexico on Saturday will defend his super bantamweight world title against Leo Santa Cruz of the Lincoln Heights section of Los Angeles. Since the bout is being held at StubHub Center in Carson, Terrazas knows Santa Cruz will get most of the cheers from what will likely be a sellout crowd.

“This is going to be a very active fight,” Terrazas, 30, said. “Going in we know that Leo Santa Cruz is the favorite in his hometown, but I’m champion of the world and I’m here to show you why I’m the champion. I’m really excited about fighting in his backyard, and I’m confident I’ll be successful. I am ready.”

Santa Cruz has already won a title in the bantamweight division, and is looked upon by some as a superstar in the making. Terrazas intimated he is therefore being taking lightly, his status as champion notwithstanding.

“I do believe I’m getting overlooked in this fight, but that doesn’t take away my desire or my will to win,” Terrazas said. “Being overlooked also doesn’t give me any more motivation, but that’s only because I’m already motivated. There’s a reason why I’m champion.”

Terrazas is 37-2-1 with 21 knockouts. Santa Cruz, 25, is 24-0-1 with 14 knockouts.

The two will tangle on the undercard of the Abner Mares-Jhonny Gonzalez featherweight title fight (on Showtime).

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Los Angeles’ Leo Santa Cruz says he lives to fight for his fans

Former bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz is not shy when it comes to talking about how much it means to him to please his fans while he’s working.

After making the third defense of his title, Santa Cruz – of the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles – moved up in weight and stopped Alexander Munoz in the fifth round in May on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero welterweight title fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Santa Cruz on Aug. 24 will get a chance to win another title when he challenges Victor Terrazas of Mexico for his super bantamweight belt at StubHub Center in Carson (on Showtime). That he might be able to become a two-time champion in his hometown makes the opportunity that much sweeter for Santa Cruz, 24.

“The only pressure on me when I fight is the pressure I put on myself to please the fans,” Santa Cruz said. “They’re who I fight for. I want them to see tremendous action and great fights each time.  I really want to give them what they want. I never want to disappoint them.

“When I hear fans say they like me, it only encourages me to work harder and show them what I’ve got.”

Santa Cruz is 24-0-1. Terrazas, 30, is 37-2-1 with 21 knockouts.

The card is being staged by Golden Boy Promotions. Tickets are priced at $25, $50, $75 and $150 and can be purchased by calling 888-929-7849, by going online at or through the StubHub Center box office.

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Leo Santa Cruz scores 5th-round TKO

Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights – a former bantamweight champion – moved up to super bantamweight and stopped Alexander Munoz of Venezuela in the fifth round of their scheduled 10-round fight underneath Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Santa Cruz floored Munoz (36-5) in the third and fifth rounds. After the knockdown in the fifth, Munoz got up but did not look good and one of his cornermen stepped into the ring, referee Vic Drakulich waving it off at 1:05.

Santa Cruz is 24-0-1 with 14 knockouts.

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