By Keith Idec
Abner Mares admits he was surprised when he learned Leo Santa Cruz will face Chris Avalos on October 14.
Mares agreed to fight fellow Mexican Andres Gutierrez on the same card and wonders why Santa Cruz was offered what Mares considers an easier fight than the one he accepted. Avalos has been stopped in three of his past five fights and Mares doesn’t expect him to offer much resistance against Santa Cruz.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Mares told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles to officially announce their doubleheader October 14. “I would’ve hoped that we would’ve both got the same level, same type of fight for this fight. But again, every individual fighter chooses their fights and at the end of the day, the fans are the ones that see exactly how it is. I just go in there and do my job.”
Mares had hoped his next job would’ve been a rematch with Santa Cruz on October 7 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Their deal was all but done, but Santa Cruz insisted on them taking interim title defenses before agreeing to meet Mares again.
Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs), of Rosemead, California, will defend his WBA super world featherweight championship against Avalos (27-5, 20 KOs), of Lancaster, California, in a main event FOX will televise from StubHub Center in Carson, California. Before Santa Cruz and Avalos square off, Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs), of Montebello, California, is scheduled to make the first first defense of his WBA world featherweight title against Gutierrez (35-1-1, 25 KOs).
The 31-year-old Mares doesn’t think the Santa Cruz-Avalos fight will be at all competitive.
“Honestly, I don’t expect him to give Leo any type of fight,” Mares said. “I think Leo should definitely take him out. No disrespect to Avalos. He’s a tough warrior. But he definitely shouldn’t bring harm to Leo, especially coming off of three knockouts in his last [five] fights, and being that in his last fight he got stunned and dropped. But again, you never know. Fights are fights. You’ve just got to concentrate and hope Leo does come out victorious, as well as myself, and our fight happens.”
Avalos beat Miguel Flores (21-2, 9 KOs) by fifth-round technical knockout in his last bout, but that fight was stopped due to a cut over Flores’ left eye July 18 in Alexandria, Louisiana. Houston’s Flores was winning by the same score on all three cards (48-46) when that fight ended and knocked down Avalos in the third round.
Before he faced Flores, the 27-year-old Avalos lost by technical knockout in three of his previous four fights to Mark Magsayo, Oscar Valdez and Carl Frampton.
The 29-year-old Santa Cruz split a pair of hard-fought, 12-round majority decisions with Frampton in his last two fights. Worries about ring rust prevented Santa Cruz from facing Mares on October 7 because he hasn’t fought since he won back the WBA super world featherweight from Frampton on January 28 in Las Vegas.
Assuming they win October 14, Santa Cruz and Mares have agreed that their rematch will take place sometime within the first quarter of 2018.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.