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Abner Mares: I thought I won the fight, I’m willing to do a rematch

Abner MaresBy Dan Ambrose: After having come up empty in his war with Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs) last Saturday night, 29-year-old Aber Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) is complaining that he should have been given the win in their fight at the Staples Center in Carson, California.

Mares thought he had done enough to get the nod from the three judges who had been assigned to the fight, but unfortunately for him they saw the 27-year-old Santa Cruz as the winner by a 12 round majority decision by the scores of 114-114, 117-111, and 117-111. Mares had to settle for being the whiner instead of the winner. I’m just saying.

Mares should be lucky that one of the judges, Max DeLuca, scored the fight as a draw, because it could – and arguably should – have been a 12 round unanimous decision win for Santa Cruz. Mares was just too small, too weak, and too limited to get the job done against Santa Cruz.

“It was a close fight, but I thought I won the fight. I thought I pulled it off,” Mares said after the fight. “I’m more than willing to have a rematch. It was a close fight. I think I deserve a rematch and I think the fans deserve another show.”

As much as I’d like to see a rematch, I think it would be in the best interest of Mares if he were to move on and look to find someone that he matches up better with. He’s too small to beat a fighter as big as Santa Cruz, and I think they could fight each other 100 times, and Santa Cruz would win 100 times.

If Mares doesn’t want to mess up his own resume by losing to Santa Cruz over and over again, I think it would be far better for Mares to lose a little muscle weight and move back down to either super bantamweight or bantamweight to compete with guys his own size. Mares doesn’t belong as featherweight. We saw that clearly when he was knocked out in the 1st round by Jhonny Gonzalez two years ago.

Unless Mares has a specific reason for not wanting to fight at 122 or 118, he needs to move back down in weight. Believe me, it can only get worse for Mares if he stays at featherweight and starts taking on guys like Gary Russell Jr., Vasyl Lomachenko, Jesus Andres Cuellar and Lee Selby.

“It was my mistake. I started really good, but along the way I changed my plan for some weird reason and I don’t know why I did it,” Mares said.

Mares looked good enough to fight Santa Cruz to a standstill in the 1st round of the fight, but even then, Mares still wasn’t doing a great job. He got nailed by some huge shots in the 1st round. That pattern stayed that way for the remainder of the fight. Mares was mixing it up early in the fight, and getting the worst of it. He changed tactics after the 3rd round, and began to try and mug Santa Cruz on the inside with wrestling, holding, and general smothering tactics.

Once Mares got to that point, it was clear that he wasn’t going to win the fight. It just looked like he was attempting to keep Santa Cruz from getting his shots off rather than Mares trying to actually win the fight. When a fighter goes as negative as Mares was with his spoiling tactics, it’s pretty clear they’re just trying to gum up the works and hope that somehow they can squeak out a close decision rather than win the fight in a decisive manner.

Mares suffered a cut over his left eye from a clash of heads in the 3rd. In the 10th, Mares was cut over his right eye from another head-butt. The blood from the second cut was real bad, turning Mares’ face into a red mask, and likely making it difficult for him to see. The fight become very, very one-sided from the 10th round on. I thought the fight became one-sided from the 8th, when Santa Cruz appeared to hurt Mares with several hard right hands from the outside.

I didn’t give Mares a round from the 8th to the 12th. I had Santa Cruz winning the last 5 rounds easily. I also thought the scores were too close. I think Santa Cruz won 11 of the 12 rounds. I couldn’t give Mares more than one round because he was throwing weaker punches on the inside, and getting nailed with hard shots each time Santa Cruz was able to pry Mares off of him.

Santa Cruz was cut over his right eye from a head-butt in the 3rd round, but he wasn’t bothered by the cut. If anything, Santa Cruz fought harder after the cut than before it. Once Santa Cruz upped the pace of the fight starting in the 3rd, Mares really began to struggle, as he attempted to slug with him but kept getting caught with hard uppercuts while coming forward. Santa Cruz also did a good job of connecting with left hooks to the head of Mares when he was rushing forward.

If there’s a lot of money in a rematch between Mares and Santa Cruz, then they need to go for it. If not, then Santa Cruz should focus on trying to get fights against guys like Jhonny Gonzalez, Gary Russell Jr. or Lee Selby. It’s doubtful that Santa Cruz will be able to get a fight against Lomachenko, because he fights for Top Rank, and Santa Cruz is with adviser Al Haymon. It’s probably not a doable fight for those reasons. Haymon could set up fights between Santa Cruz and guys like Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Guillermo Rigondeaux, if those fighters were willing to come up in weight and meet Santa Cruz at a catch-weight. There would be no point in Santa Cruz coming down in weight to fight them now that he’s captured a world title at featherweight.

With the victory last night, Santa Crux is now the new WBC Diamond and WBA Super World featherweight title. That’s only good if Haymon can find him interesting fights. If he wants to do the rematch, then that’s a possibility, but I don’t see the outcome being any different. Mares doesn’t hit hard enough, and he’s not big enough to fight in the featherweight division. The winner will always be Santa Cruz.


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