By Miguel Maravilla
WBA World featherweight champion Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) of Hawaiian Gardens, California by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico is eager to once again get back in the ring with his cross-town rival Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) of Lincoln Heights, California by way of Huetamo, Michoacan, Mexico in a rematch. Mares will have his shot avenge his loss to Santa Cruz on June 9th at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“This rematch, I’m really excited. It’s finally happening. I’m happy, its hard to get those redemption fights,” Abner Mares told Fightnews.com®. “It”s going to be a good fight, you all saw the first fight.”
It was back in August of 2015 as Mares and Santa Cruz went toe to toe from the opening bell, setting a Compu-box record as Santa Cruz would go on to win a unanimous decision.
“My downfall in that fight was trying to do too much. I think I started good and I should have left it like that. I could have made changes and been a better fighter that night,” Mares commented. “Things happen for a reason.”
Mares has won his last two fights since suffering the loss to Santa Cruz. A split decision over the hard-hitting Argentinian Luis Cuellar as he won the WBA World featherweight title in which many writers including myself counted him out.
“Many thought that against Cuellar I was going to get knocked out but I proved a lot of people wrong,” Mares on his win over Cuellar.
In his last fight, he won a technical decision over a tough Andres Gutierrez this past October at the Stub Hub Center as Mares looked solid in that fight against his mandatory that was avoided by many in the division.
“He was a tough fighter that had a hard time getting a title shot. He was avoided but thanks to my team overall we had the proper camp and plan for that fight,” Mares on his last fight as he now sets his sight on Santa Cruz.
For Santa Cruz since his win over Mares, he tasted the bitter fruits of defeat two fights later in dropping a decision to former champion Carl Frampton but quickly regained his title in avenging his only defeat. Following that fight, Santa Cruz returned with a stoppage over Chris Avalos in his last fight on the same card Mares defeated Gutierrez, setting up the rematch.
“All I can tell you is that it’s not going to be an easy fight for him,” Mares said. “He knows, he’s mentioned Robert a lot and he has seen my last two fights,” Mares added.
The difference in this fight for Mares, he comes into this fight with trainer Robert Garcia as they hooked up back in 2015 training with him for a year. The two have gone 2-0 since hooking up and Garcia helped guide Mares to becoming world champion once again.
“I have learned a lot with Robert. From a mental game, strategic, game plan, boxing and getting hit less,” Mares on training with Robert Garcia. “I can go in there now and make the changes to win this fight.”
Training camp is underway as the champ and the respected trainer prepare for the rematch in Moreno Valley at Garcia’s ranch stable
“Camp is good. I started 2 weeks ago. It’s just a matter of having the proper conditioning and right game plan,” Mares on camp.
Now Mares gets set for his shot at redemption as he looks to even the score with Santa Cruz.
“I’m getting my redemption against Leo and I’m happy,” Mares on the opportunity. “I’m a better man and better fighter,. I will win this fight.”
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