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Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares are both fighting at the same venue on the same Premier Boxing Champions card on the same night, but unfortunately for those aching for these two to follow up their thrilling 2015 title contest, they are not in the same match.
Santa Cruz is instead defending his WBA super world featherweight title against Chris Avalos, a fighter who is on a rather poor run of form of late. Mares will be taking on Andres Gutierrez to defend his regular WBA world featherweight title in the co-feature of the PBC on Fox card.
The hope is that these two retain their titles, thus setting up a long-awaited rematch.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael noted in August that though the mandatory rematch fell through for fall, “the announcement of the Oct. 14 doubleheader said that, assuming they both retain their titles, they have agreed to terms to meet in the rematch in early 2018.”
So with that hitch in the sequel, Santa Cruz finds himself taking on an opponent he should beat soundly on Saturday night. Here’s how you can catch him in action.
Santa Cruz vs. Avalos Fight Info
When: Saturday, October 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: StubHub Center in Carson, California
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Santa Cruz has put together an excellent run over the last couple of years, with Ring rating him the top featherweight in the world. His win over Mares in August 2015 earned him the WBA title he’s defending, as well as bragging rights for the Los Angeles area.
An easy TKO-win over Kiko Martinez set the Mexican boxer up for two fights with Carl Frampton, both of which proved to be extremely entertaining and decided by razor-thin margins.
Frampton took the first fight by majority decision in July 2016, proving to be more accurate and landing more powerful punches, though the indefatigable Santa Cruz was much busier.
Santa Cruz came back a few months later in January of this year to face Frampton again, this time coming out on top in yet another majority decision.
Coming off those two excellent bouts against Frampton, the match against Avalos is something of a letdown. Avalos is another Los Angeles-area boxer, so there is some added local intrigue, but he hasn’t done much of late to prove he’s capable of testing “El Terremoto.” In fact, he’s already lost to Santa Cruz once before as an amateur, per Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times.
“I’m sure they want revenge for that,” the 29-year-old Santa Cruz said, per Pugmire.
Avalos may have revenge on his mind, but his recent results don’t suggest he’s capable of the big upset here.
The 27-year-old from Lancaster has lost three of his last five contests, all three of those losses coming by TKO. The competition has been strong, however. One loss was to Frampton, the next to undefeated WBO world champion Oscar Valdez and the third to Mark Magsayo, an exciting 22-year-old Filipino boxer with an undefeated record.
Avalos has been on the wrong side of bouts more often than not lately, but he isn’t shying away from top-notch competition.
Avalos is surely familiar with Santa Cruz’s work, and that may help him make things difficult for the champion.
“I grew up with Leo Santa Cruz, so I know how to fight him,” Avalos said, per Rafael. “We did a lot of sparring wearing headgear as amateurs, and I put a hurting on him back in the day. I’m not scared. I’m ready to fight. I know in the back of his mind, he’ll be thinking about that. I know I’m the underdog, but I’m not scared.”
Avalos may be fearless in the ring, but it’s unlikely he has the length, skill or work rate to keep up with Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz doesn’t always go for the knockout blow, but he should look to limit his exposure in this one and be aggressive. A satisfying, decisive win coupled with a Mares triumph will do well to whet the appetite for the potential rematch.