Leo Santa Cruz Takes Over, Takes Decision Over Abner Mares
Leo Santa Cruz scored by far the biggest win of his career, fending off a spirited effort from Abner Mares and winning a majority decision.
Santa Cruz had won world titles before this in the 118- and 122-pound divisions, but he’d never come close to facing anyone on the level of Mares and hadn’t even been in the ring against a decent challenge in quite some time. That was particularly frustrating for fans given how much promise Santa Cruz had shown before and how entertaining he can be to watch. Mares needed the victory as well. He was a former titleholder at 118, 122 and 126 whose last reign ended two years ago when Jhonny Gonzalez beat him with a shocking first-round technical knockout.
The winner would get a belt in the featherweight division and insert himself into the list of top fighters at 126. It’s no wonder, then, that Mares came out aggressively in an attempt to assert himself against someone he felt wasn’t on his level. Mares forced Santa Cruz to the ropes, dug to his body, punched in-between Santa Cruz’s shots when they were closer together and landed good looping overhand rights when there was more space between them.
Santa Cruz weathered it well and began to adjust. He used his jab to establish distance and disrupt Mares’ rhythm. He landed combinations and then moved slightly backward to get out of range. He was the volume puncher that had attracted attention years ago, sending out 1,057 shots over the course of 12 rounds and landing 373. Mares fought valiantly but not as effectively. He, too, threw close to 1,000 punches (980 in total) and landed 227 of them.
But it was Santa Cruz who had taken over down the stretch. He was the winner on two of the three judges’ scorecards, ahead 117-111, or nine rounds to three. The other judge had it a draw at 114-114, six rounds apiece. It was a competitive fight, but there should be no controversy in seeing Santa Cruz as the victor.
He now has various options available, including future clashes against 126-pound titleholders Jesus Cuellar, Gary Russell Jr. and Lee Selby, 122-pound titleholder Carl Frampton, or the winner of the Sept. 12 fight between Gonzalez and Jonathan Oquendo. A bout against talented 126-pound titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko is unfortunately unlikely thanks to the politics of the sport.
Mares would like a rematch with Santa Cruz but may have to wait. While he came up on the short end of the decision, he did appear to be a far better fighter than we’d seen in the past two years. He’ll get another chance to rebuild and work his way back into contention.
Shane Mosley Returns to Boxing With Rematch Knockout of Mayorga
Shane Mosley began his latest comeback by beating Ricardo Mayorga, the perfect opponent for such an occasion. Mosley won the one-sided fight with a sixth-round knockout, putting Mayorga down for the count and putting the mismatch out of its misery.
Mosley and Mayorga had fought once before, way back in 2008. Mosley ended that fight with one second left on the clock. Mosley went on to bigger things, including a championship win and then losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez. He began to wear down with age and retired at the end of 2013.
Mayorga, a former champion itself, largely went inactive. He resurfaced in the spotlight in 2011 to lose to Miguel Cotto, spent 2013 in a failed campaign in mixed martial arts, and finally donned boxing gloves again last year.
Both are in their early 40s now. Mosley at least showed up in shape. Mayorga failed to make weight by a lot, then added even more pounds by fight night. He was never wholly committed to conditioning; he’s rarely seen without a cigarette in his mouth. He looked bad against Mosley — even more sluggish, even cruder, a walking and trash-talking punching bag.
Again, the perfect opponent.
Mosley hit his all-too-willing target with flush right hands in the first, loaded up with more in the second. He wasn’t throwing particularly often, but he didn’t need to so long as Mayorga was doing less. Mayorga seemed unable to do much beyond miss punches and bring back his old tricks and taunts, including dropping his gloves and inviting Mosley to land free shots on his legendarily sturdy chin. Mosley began to land more and more, and he began to listen to his father/trainer by directing more of those punches to Mayorga’s flabby body.
Body shots are what ultimately brought this rematch to an end. Mosley had dominated the fifth and was doing the same in the sixth, barring a moment when Mosley seemed to trip over Mayorga’s feet after a pair of Mayorga right hands. In the final second of the sixth, Mosley threw a right hand to the body that got blocked but landed a left. Mayorga went down to the canvas, complaining of a low blow. The punch was a legal one, though, and the referee reached 10 with Mayorga still on his knees.
It’s hard to tell how much Mosley, who turns 44 in early September, actually has left. He left the sport after a loss to Anthony Mundine, saying his back had been bothering him in the bout. He says he’s healthy now and can be competitive again. But there’s a big difference between looking good against Ricardo Mayorga, never mind this version of him, and looking good against someone who still takes this sport seriously.
That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We just won’t know until we see who Mosley faces next and how he performs against them.