By Keith Idec
Of all the things Leo Santa Cruz has said in advance of their rematch, Abner Mares made a mental note of one comment in particular.
Mares was surprised to learn Santa Cruz stated that he would beat Mares “a lot easier” in their rematch than he did in their first fight.
Santa Cruz settled for a majority-decision victory over Mares in August 2015, but he won nine of the 12 rounds on two of the judges’ scorecards (117-111, 117-111, 114-114).
Mares is confident he’ll fight smarter in this rematch between Southern California rivals June 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The three-division champion also senses Santa Cruz is overconfident as their 12-round rematch nears.
“I think so,” Mares said, “and if that’s the case, then hey, it’s gonna work to my advantage.”
The 32-year-old Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) has boxed better in his two fights with trainer Robert Garcia in his corner. The 29-year-old Santa Cruz (29-1-1, 24 KOs) feels he also has improved since their first fight, a point the defending WBA “super” featherweight champion is certain he proved during his majority-decision victory over Carl Frampton in their rematch 16 months ago.
“One thing that’s caught my attention is Leo saying that he’s gonna beat me a lot easier this time,” Mares said. “I don’t know how. Maybe he has that advantage because he beat me already, and he has the mentality that he can do it again. But not so much to say it’s gonna be a lot easier for him. I just hope he doesn’t feel that way, and if he does, I’m gonna let it be known that that’s not the case. I’m just gonna go out there and just really work him.”
Showtime will broadcast the Santa Cruz-Mares rematch as the main event of a doubleheader. The two-fight telecast will start with Houston’s Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) defending his WBC super welterweight title against Austin Trout (31-4, 17 KOs), a former WBA 154-pound champ from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.