StubHub Center, Carson, California - WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) stopped Chris Avalos (27-6, 20 KOs) in eight rounds.
Santa Cruz now moves forward to a potential March rematch with Abner Mares, who won a decision over Andres Gutierrez in the co-featured bout.
Santa Cruz is coming off the biggest win of his career, when he re-claimed the WBA belt with a twelve round majority decision over Carl Frampton back in January at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Santa Cruz had previously lost the belt to Frampton in July 2016, also by majority decision.
Avalos lost three of his last five, with knockout defeats to Carl Frampton, Mark Magsayo and Oscar Valdez. In his last fight, back in July, he got a controversial stoppage win over Miguel Flores.
Santa Cruz came out in the first round with sharp punches. He had no trouble landing punches on Avalos, but he was also able to get some counters on Santa Cruz - who closed the round with a big flurry of shots.
Avalos was holding his own in the second, with Santa Cruz holding the advantage with his punches. They were swinging hard for the fences at the start of the third. Avalos was giving as good as he was getting. Santa Cruz appeared to stagger him in the final minute with a good right hand.
Santa Cruz stunned Avalos with a series of punches in the fourth. Avalos made a decision to fight his way out of trouble. Santa Cruz went for the kill, landing some really big shots and hard solid combinations, over and over. Avalos was stumbling around, but continued to trade punches and made it to the end of the round.
Santa Cruz once again stunned Avalos at the start of the fifth, with a hard right hand. Avalos was still throwing, but eating big shots for most of the round. Santa Cruz continued to dominated the action in the sixth and came out throwing some big shots in the seventh.
Avalos was rattled during the eight. Santa Cruz once again went after him with punches and Avalos fought his way out of trouble. Then Santa Cruz landed another good shot and the referee waved off the fight.