3 More Rounds

Santa Cruz outpoints Mares in a thriller

Photo: Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions

Photo: Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions

Leo Santa Cruz was able to weather the early pressure brought on by Abner Mares to remain undefeated and win Los Angeles bragging rights with a majority decision in front of a mostly full crowd at the Staples Center.

Santa Cruz, (31-0-1, 17KO) fought a smart 12 featherweight rounds, using his height and reach and picking spots to land the crisper shots of the two fighters.

“I was surprised Abner came out so strong. He came right at me but we figured him out and we got the win,” said Santa Cruz, who gave proper credit to his team for fighting their fight.

“I stayed outside with the jab. We were able to take control.”

Mares, (29-2-1) brought the pressure early, was coming off three straight wins following his KO loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013 and looked to be in great shape, packing on more muscle than usual and in stark contrast to Santa Cruz’s thin set frame.

However, Santa Cruz landed at a greater percentage rate at 35% to Mares’ 23%, and also got the better of the power shots at a tally of 302 to 220.

Both fighters combined to throw 2,037 punches in a fight that mostly took place in the middle of the ring and brought many moments of action trading between the two.

“It was a close fight, but I thought I won the fight. I thought I pulled it off,” said Mares.

“My plan was to box him, but I started out really fast. I felt good but my corner told me to box more, so I did that. It was a good fight.”

In the nights co-main event, a super bantamweight showdown earned fight of the night honors as Julio Cesar Ceja, (29-1, 26KO) survived a knockdown and stopped his opponent Hugo Ruiz inside five rounds.

Ceja became the WBC interim title holder in the process and if Santa Cruz elects to stay in the featherweight division, Ceja will be elevated to full title holder.

The announced attendance at the Staples Center was 13,109.

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