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Santa Cruz vs. Mares: Did Leo prove why skills beat strength conditioning?

 STAPLES CENTERBy Gerardo Granados: Do the readers think that you need to bench press +330 pounds and to look like a body builder to knock your opponent out; or if you need to use all those expensive gym equipment to be fit and strong? Is it that a lanky body type of boxer like welter Tommy Hearns or featherweight Salvador Sanchez had serious punching power or do they needed to look ripped like Tim Bradley to hit hard?

Abner Mares looked jacked up at the weigh-in last Friday, and as usual some casual fans like a friend of mine thought that Leo Santa Cruz was in trouble for their fight last Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Abner started the fight strong in the first three rounds keeping an intense pressure but he wasn’t able to keep the pace for the full twelve rounds and by the sixth round he started to slow down, also Leo used his defensive skills to avoid major damage and by the seventh round Mares simply lost his way not finding advice on his corner on how to adjust.

Santa Cruz fought a smart fight using his jab and movement, also effectively countering Mares who only walked straight lines throwing the same punches thru all the fight. If Leo had strong punching power I am certain he would have stopped Mares in the late rounds due Abner´s weak defense.

With Mares having the height and reach disadvantage he had to get inside and force Santa Cruz into an inside fight. But repeatedly round after round Mares keep on negating himself to work on the inside by constantly clinching, I would have expected Leo to do the clinching and I don’t find any good reason for Mares to have fought so close.

Andre Berto stated in the first episode of All Access to be as strong as ever, curiously when he fought Josesito Lopez he also looked strong but was being out boxed and hit with quite ease by Josesito. If Berto thinks that by matching Floyd´s speed he will have a better chance to beat him then he might have to reconsider and better work on a strategy to crack Mayweather superb defense.

There have been great inside fighters from whom Mares can learn. One of my favorite inside fighters is Roberto Duran; watch him work on the inside creating openings maneuvering his bigger opponent setting his punches and while staying at close range block slip move his head to avoid getting hit without the need to constantly clinch.

Watch how master boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux use his footwork and jab to set up his combinations and control a taller opponent, also watch how Juan Manuel Marquez reads his opponent and gets ready to counter with a three punch combination.

There are many belt holders who look confused inside the ring and are hesitant to attack because they simply don’t know how to get inside or aren’t able to defend themselves from a right hand counter punch.

There is a video on internet in which you can see how an old boxer who might be a 60 year old fella, who also is noticeably out of shape give a beating to a young in shape arrogant guy. The point is you don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest man inside the ring to win; you must know how to box to beat anyone who is in front of you.

Mares wasted his opportunity to shine by constantly clinching like a novice boxer while Santa Cruz used his boxing skills to win. Abner also prevented this bout to achieve fight of the year contention due his hugging tactics.

If the reader was to decide, would you choose to have Memo Heredia and Alex Ariza instead of Ignacio Beristain for eight weeks?

I think Mares should focus on developing boxing skills instead of paying that much attention to the physical conditioning on his next bout. But what about the reader, do you agree?

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