A rematch between featherweight world champions and Southern California rivals Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares will headline action Saturday, June 9 live on SHOWTIME from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) and Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) first met in August 2015 at STAPLES Center and went toe-to-toe for 12 fast-paced rounds, with Santa Cruz eventually earning the majority decision and a vacant featherweight title. Now, Santa Cruz will put his WBA Super World Featherweight Title on the line against the WBA Regular Featherweight World Champion Mares.
The initial matchup garnered “Fight of the Year” recognition and warranted a rematch between the consensus top-five featherweights who will look to put on a repeat of the performance that saw them throw over 2,000 punches combined.
“This is a fight that fans have been clamouring for and a fight that is certain to deliver action and drama,” said Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Sports. “This is once again a true battle for Los Angeles, with only one man able to walk out of STAPLES Center with that crown as the best in the city. Fans should get their tickets early, because this is sure to be a hot ticket given the styles of each man and the motivations they have to win this fight. I can’t wait to see what happens on June 9 and I look forward to another memorable fight.”
“It is rare that a rematch is as highly anticipated as the initial match, but Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares 2 is one of those rematches,’’ said Tom Brown of TGB Promotions. “Since their first match both Leo and Abner have gone on to solidify their positions at the top of the featherweight division, making a second meeting between them even more compelling. The winner will definitely become the man sitting at the top of a very competitive 126-pound division.”
”We are incredibly excited for this rematch of Southern California rivals to take place at STAPLES Center,” Lee Zeidman, President, STAPLES Center.” Boxing fans are in for an amazing night of fights in downtown Los Angeles on June 9th.”
“SHOWTIME is proud to deliver yet another pivotal matchup between two of the consensus top-five featherweights in the world,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports & Event Programing, Showtime Networks Inc. “Santa Cruz-Mares 1 was a Fight of the Year-caliber fight with non-stop action from start to finish, and the rematch promises more of the same – with not just a world title at stake, but also Southern California bragging rights. This is the type of marquee bout that has become a hallmark of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, a true 50-50 showdown with high stakes implications.”
The popular Mexican-American Santa Cruz fights out of Los Angeles and most recently stopped Chris Avalos in October 2017 after a pair of high stakes showdowns against Irish star and two-division world champion Carl Frampton. While Santa Cruz lost a close majority decision in their first matchup, he bounced back in January 2017 to defeat Frampton by majority decision and regain his 126-pound title. Prior to that, Santa Cruz won belts at 118 and 122 pounds while earning a reputation as one of boxing’s most active and exciting fighters. The 29-year-old also holds victories over Cristian Mijares, Kiko Martinez and Eric Morel and has competed in world title bouts in 14 of his last 16 fights since 2012.
“The fans can expect a full-action fight just like the first one, maybe even better,” said Santa Cruz. “I know Abner Mares changed his trainer and Robert Garcia is a great trainer who will bring the best out of him. But we’re also smart and I have a strong team that will bring the best out of me. It will be a great fight once again for the boxing fans in Los Angeles.”
Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and fighting out of Los Angeles, Calif., Mares became a four-time world champion in December 2016 when he dropped Jesus Cuellar on his way to a unanimous decision and another featherweight world championship. Mares most recently scored a technical decision over Andres Gutierrez in October 2017. A Mexican Olympian in 2004, the 32-year-old won his first title in 2011 when he beat Joseph Agbeko to capture the bantamweight crown. He continued to rise in the pound-for-pound list with victories over Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce De Leon to win world titles at super bantamweight and featherweight. The June 9 bout will be Mares’ third contest with World Champion trainer Robert Garcia, who helped Mares to a title-winning victory in their first fight together.
“It’s been over two years since I fought Leo Santa Cruz and all I’ve been thinking about is redemption,” said Mares. “Now that I’m with Robert Garcia and his team, you’ve seen the change. If they think I’m going to fight the same way, they are in for a surprise.”