By Keith Idec
The Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares rematch won’t take place October 7 after all.
The featherweight champions were tentatively scheduled to fight again that night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, but according to an ESPN.com story posted Friday, Santa Cruz and Mares couldn’t come to a financial agreement. Santa Cruz also would reportedly prefer facing a lesser opponent as part of a doubleheader that would feature Mares against someone else as well.
Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) beat Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) by majority decision in their action-packed, 12-round fight in August 2015 at Staples Center. Two judges credited Santa Cruz with a convincing victory that night (117-111), though a third judge scored their bout even (114-114).
Their rematch was expected to generate plenty of interest in the Los Angeles area because Santa Cruz and Mares are both Mexican-born fighters who reside and train in Southern California.
Since overcoming Mares, the 29-year-old Santa Cruz has split a pair of highly competitive featherweight title fights against Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs).
He won the WBA super world featherweight title by defeating Frampton by majority decision in their 12-round fight January 28 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Frampton beat Santa Cruz by 12-round majority decision in July 2016 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
The 31-year-old Mares won the WBA’s world featherweight title and rejuvenated his career when he out-boxed Argentina’s Jesus Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) and won their 12-rounder by split decision December 10 at USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles. Mares’ victory over Cuellar made him the mandatory challenger for Santa Cruz’s title.
A purse bid for the WBA-mandated rematch between Santa Cruz and Mares was canceled recently because representatives for both boxers assured the WBA that they had come to financial terms.
Showtime was to televise the Santa Cruz-Mares rematch as the main event of a doubleheader October 7. According to the ESPN.com story, Showtime Sports’ Stephen Espinoza isn’t interested in the network broadcasting separate fights featuring Santa Cruz and Mares before it televises their rematch.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.