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Can Santa Cruz Overcome The More Experienced Abner Mares?

August goes out with a bang tonight at Staples Center in the American city of Los Angeles with the WBA featherweight "super" title on the line in a massive showdown between California based Mexican boxers Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz.

The combatants are both multi-weight world champions with Mares, 29-1-1 (15), having held the IBF bantam, WBC super bantam and WBC featherweight crowns while Santa Cruz, 30-0-1 (17), has worn two of the same belts, the IBF bantam and the WBC super bantam.

This will be Santa Cruz's second appearance at 126 pounds as the lanky 27 year old won all ten rounds against Jose Cayetano in May while 29 year old Mares has been a featherweight since 2013, although fought as a super feather in his last three appearances.

Mares has defeated the better grade of opposition, with names such as Anselmo Moreno, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Joseph Agbeko, Vic Darchinyan and Eric Morel on his resume while Santa Cruz's list of notable victims includes Vusi Malinga, Cristian Mijares and Morel.

The media build-up to this contest has featured some bad blood, mostly from Mares, who has maintained that Santa Cruz has been a protected fighter who hasn't been put in with the type of competition that Mares has had to deal with.

That type of tough matchmaking led to Mares' sole defeat, a crushing first round KO at the hands of hard-hitting Jhonny Gonzalez, who took away the Montebello man's WBC featherweight title two years ago.

It's that loss that gives Team Santa Cruz confidence that their charge will expose the fact that Mares hasn't been the same fighter since suffering that devastating defeat.

And that is what gives Mares extra motivation to prove that he not only is better than he ever was but that Gonzalez's victory was nothing more than the result of a lucky punch.

This one looks to be a genuine 50-50 fight on paper but once the bell rings, all the pre-fight theory that's been bandied about in the media won't mean anything.

Santa Cruz is three inches taller than Mares and has a sizeable reach advantage but the Rosemead resident often negates his height by crouching down and fighting on the inside.

If that does happen, Mares will have a big advantage as he is at his best at close quarters where he can unleash short punches to the head and body.

Santa Cruz likes to throw a high volume of leather and his style often keeps his opponents defensive as they struggle to deal with his unrelenting attack.

The fighter than can dictate his pace on his rival will likely decide the winner if the bout goes the distance. If the taller Santa Cruz can back up Mares and keep him worried about the punches coming his way, he should win a world title in a third weight division.

If the stronger Mares can put Santa Cruz on the ropes and force a grinding, wrestling inside brawl, he should wear the WBA crown when the scorecards are read.

In order for either man to pull off a successful strategy, their confidence will have to withstand the test of adversity and it should be very interesting to see who wins that battle.

About Richard Eberline

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