By Keith Idec
Richard Schaefer repeatedly emphasized Wednesday that Abner Mares’ upcoming fight against Andres Gutierrez is anything but a tune-up.
Leo Santa Cruz’s fight against Chris Avalos – scheduled for that same night, October 14, in Carson, California – on paper appears to be significantly easier than Mares’ matchup. Nevertheless, Schaefer confirmed during a conference call to promote their FOX doubleheader that there’s an agreement in place for the Santa Cruz-Mares rematch to take place if Santa Cruz and Mares win their fights a week from Saturday night.
“I’ve been told by the fighters and their managers that a deal structure is in place, assuming everything goes well, that they will fight each other,” said Schaefer, whose company, Ringstar Sports, is co-promoting this October 14 card. “The target date is March of next year, here in Los Angeles.”
Santa Cruz acknowledged later during their call that there’s an oral agreement in place.
“Yeah, of course,” Santa Cruz said. “That’s what I said. When they told me that, I told them, ‘OK, yeah. But I wanna get this fight and hopefully we get the win and Mares gets the win, [and then] I wanna face him right away.’ And they said, yes, they’re gonna do everything they can to make it as soon as possible. And I think that’s gonna be my next fight if everything goes good.”
Santa Cruz’s father/trainer, Jose, insisted that his son take another bout before meeting Mares again because Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) hasn’t fought since he out-boxed Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) to win their 12-round featherweight championship rematch by majority decision January 28 in Las Vegas.
Mares admitted during the conference call that he was “upset” when he learned Santa Cruz demanded an interim bout because Mares was willing to end an even longer layoff by boxing Santa Cruz next. Their rematch had been penciled in for this Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, before they changed the plan and scheduled the October 14 doubleheader at StubHub Center.
Santa Cruz beat Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) by majority decision in their 12-round title fight two years ago at Staples Center.
Mares became the mandatory challenger for Santa Cruz’s WBA super world featherweight title by beating Argentina’s Jesus Cuellar in his last fight. The former Mexican Olympian defeated Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) by split decision to win the WBA world featherweight title December 10 at USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.