Featherweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz was victorious in his Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deporte fights Saturday night from StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. and officially set up a world championship rematch between the two popular southern California champions in early 2018.
"I want Abner Mares," said Santa Cruz. "I said if we both win; we're going to fight. I'm ready to fight him in Los Angeles in the beginning of next year."
In the main event, Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) took care of business and defended his title by stopping Chris Avalos (27-6, 20 KOs) in the eighth round.
"He was very tough and I was fighting the wrong fight," said Santa Cruz. "I wanted to please the fans and give them a brawl. Once my dad told me how I could stop him easily, I boxed him more and got the stoppage."
Santa Cruz used his length effectively and set up his jab while firing straight right hands to Avalos' head. Avalos stayed tough, but was in trouble in round four when Santa Cruz connected with a left hook that stunned Avalos in the corner.
Avalos originally retreated but as Santa Cruz came forward he was forced to brawl through the remainder of the round and took a great deal of punishment. Always game, Avalos continued to fight back and landed punches as Santa Cruz attempted to walk down his opponent.
"I thought I had him in the fourth round," said Santa Cruz. "I gassed out a little bit but I got my air back later. I thought the ref was going to jump in during that round but he let him continue."
Finally, in the eighth round, after several more flurries of punishment, referee Thomas Taylor jumped in and stopped the bout 1:34 into the round. Although he was out landed 282-169, Avalos believed he could have continued in the fight.
"I'm very upset with the stoppage," said Avalos. "We were fighting the whole time. There was no reason to stop this fight. I wasn't hurt like the referee thought. I want to fight for the title again."