Santa Cruz retains featherweight title

Ethika Familie Boxer Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares engaged in an exciting featherweight match in front of a huge crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In the end, it was Santa Cruz who won a unanimous decision by scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111 to retain his featherweight title.

At the opening bell, Santa Cruz and Mares picked up right where they left off the first time, standing toe-to-toe and exchanging punches at a rapid-fire pace. Mares edged the first and second rounds, making good use of his left hook on the inside, as Santa Cruz countered with solid punches of his own.

The 29-year-old Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) jabbed and countered effectively in the third, preventing Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) from closing the gap. It was a tactic that Santa Cruz, from Rosemead, California, put to good use for the remainder of the fight. Santa Cruz stood his ground and they traded bursts of body shots. One flurry followed another and, as they did at the end of almost every round, the pair finished the fight standing chest-to-chest, banging away with everything they had. According to CompuBox, Santa Cruz landed 357 of 1061 punches (34 percent); Mares landed 208 of 931 (22 percent).

“Without a doubt, Leo is the No. 1 featherweight in the world,” Mares said. “I said before the fight that the winner of this would be the best in the world. I take my hat off to him.” Santa Cruz said he next wants a title unification fight with Gary Russell Jr., who also has a featherweight belt. “Hopefully I am [the best featherweight in the world],” Santa Cruz said. “But I leave it to the fans to say who is the best… I want Gary Russell. Let’s unify. I’m not scared of anybody.”