Santa Cruz beat Mares
Who needs the age-old boxing rivalry between Puerto Rican and Mexican fighters when last night Saturday, August 29, 2015, at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, California, we witnessed not 1 but 3 Mexican ring Wars.
Promoted by Al Haymon’s, Premier Boxing Champions, these 3 well matched fights excited the overflow crowd of close to 13,000 fans cheering for their favorite.
The main event really a “turf war” and for bragging rights, featured 2 local elite Los Angeles Mexican fighters who actually grew up together, were amateur champs in many weight categories and also sparred with each other.
Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz, 30-0-1, 17 knockouts, and current W.B.C. (Super-122 Lb.) Bantamweight & I.B.F. 118 pound champ, finally agreed to fight his neighborhood nemesis, Abner Mares, 29-1-1, 15 k.o.’s & former 3 division world champ, for the Vacant W.B.A. (Super) Featherweight Crown.
To add insult to injury, Mares kept insisting that Santa Cruz was a “paper champ”, afraid to fight the best in his division including Cuban defector, and ex-Olympic Gold Medalist, Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigoneaux, 15-0, 10 k.o.’s, & current W.B.A., W.B.O. & Ring Magazine Super Bantamweight world champ.
Santa Cruz just simply smiled and stated that he kept calm and dismissed the insults because Mares had to prove his words in the ring, “and I would then , answer him with my fist, not words”.
The other 2 preliminary fights paired 4 unknown fighters with great fight records.
The semi-final fight was a championship fight for the Interim W.B.C. Vacant Super 122 pound Title between Mexicans Cesar “El Pollito”-Little Chick- Ceja, 29-1, 26 knockouts and Hugo Ruiz, 35-2, 31 k.o.’s.
Third, but, not least was a 6 round emergency fill-in fight also matching 2 Mexicans, and both were making their United States debut. Undefeated, Alejandro “El Charro”-Mexican Cowboy-Luna, 18-0, 13 knockouts vs. Sergio Lopez, 18-9, 12 k.o.’s.
Their fight which also ended by a knockout in 35 seconds of the 4th round, scored by the undefeated Luna, was televised because of Ceja’s early 5th round knockout victory over Ruiz. This certainly was a night for knockouts.
The amazing aspect of these 3 fights was that all of the 6 boxers had a combined knockout record in triple figures totaling, 112 knockouts.
The fans at Staple Center and those watching on E.S.P.N. Cable television certainly got their money’s worth in k.o.’s, and anticipated excitement.
The fight between Ceja and Ruiz started the fistic fireworks as both combatants attacked each other with bad intentions as the taller Ruiz used his jab keeping the aggressive but shorter Ceja at a safe distance.
Ceja relentlessly kept moving forward landing hard head and body punches hurting Ruiz although Ruiz seemed to still be in control of the fight counter-punching effectively.
From round to round they attacked each other to the delight of the fans, and then mid-way through the 4th round, Ruiz landed a solid left hook on the smaller but game Ceja knocking him down.
The fight appeared to be over as Ruiz hit a hurt Ceja repeatedly with a volume of lethal punches but the very gutsy and defensive minded Ceja held on ducking out of harm’s way avoiding some punches and holding on until the bell rang.
In the 5th round a desperate Ceja after strong instructions from his trainer, just moved forward throwing punches in bunches especially his left hook to Ruiz’ head and body, knocking him down, and when the referee finished the mandatory 8 count, Ceja continued hitting a helpless and hurt Ruiz causing the referee to stop the fight.
A very happy Ceja proved to be a better finisher than Ruiz with his very gutsy come from behind performance, scoring a victory by knockout over an almost knockout loss.
The main event also a championship fight between Santa Cruz and Mares was the icing on the boxing cake when from the very first bell Mares rushed out of his corner and immediately attacked Santa Cruz in a vicious center of the ring phone booth fashion.
A surprised but seemingly calm Santa Cruz although being hit repeatedly on his head and body, fought back, but mostly jabbed his way out of danger as Mares continued his aggressive head and body punishment of Santa Cruz.
The crowd especially Mares’ fans were on their feet screaming as this toe to toe fight continued for the first 4 rounds, which were all won by Mares.
Then in the 5th round surprising the fans or perhaps Santa Cruz, Mares started to box, by jabbing and circling around and holding Santa Cruz. I actually thought that Mares not being able to score an early knockout as he had predicted, tired and was just trying to preserve his stamina for the later rounds.
This change of strategy was to the advantage of Santa Cruz since he is a slow starter, and the slower pace allowed him to use his jab more effectively and counter punch Mares with his right hand when he would rush forward.
The slow pace caused the demanding fans to boo, but they became elated when the vicious exchange of punches resumed although briefly, just like in the first 4 rounds.
It didn’t take too long for those in attendance including the ringside commentators to notice that Santa Cruz was becoming the aggressor, scoring effective punches on the now tiring Mares who, was cut on both eyes while Santa Cruz was cut on his right eye and bleeding from his nose.
By the 9th round a very tired but still dangerous Mares was being out boxed and hurt by a Santa Cruz whom he called a “push-over” that he would knockout early.
Throughout those later rounds a desperate and tired Mares would rush Santa Cruz and pound him on his well-protected body and head in an attempt to score a knockout but, to no avail.
Well-schooled and trained by his father, Santa Cruz just boxed to stay out of harm’s way, piling up points, and in the 12th and final round he then attacked Mares almost knocking him out.
It was a very good and exciting toe to toe exchange of punches with the advantage going to Santa Cruz over a very tired, and thoroughly but, closely beaten Mares.
The decision was a very surprising one since 2 judges scored 117-111 for Santa Cruz, and the other judge scored the fight a draw, 114-114.
Black Stars’ vote was 115-113 for Santa Cruz, but it would not have argued against a draw because it was a very close exciting fight but, favoring Santa Cruz.
Abner Mares demanded a rematch, “because I won and he knows it, I hurt him more than he hurt me.”
A delighted Santa Cruz, and now the new W.B.A. Super Featherweight Champion, stated that he will give Mares a rematch but, “first things first, I am moving on to fight those he said I was too scared to fight, then later we’ll fight but the result will be the same or maybe next time a knockout victory for me.”
For at least on night, Al Haymon’s, Premier Boxing Champions’, an all Mexican fight card made us forget the Puerto Rican vs. Mexican ring rivalry that according to historic boxing legend, began in 1934 when Puerto Rican ring great, Sixto Escobar, knocked out Mexican ring star, Rodolfo “Baby” Casanova in the 9th round and won the Montreal Athletic Commission World Bantamweight Title.
The Mexican-Puerto Rican ring rivalry score according to the latest statistics are, Mexicans-89 victories and Puerto Ricans-45 victories which are possibly challengeable this date as we speak, because many fights are still not listed.
Some very exciting historical all-Mexican ring wars were:
1) Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz-twice won by Marquez
2) Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. vs. Oscar De La Hoya-twice won by De La Hoya
3) Marcos Antonio Barrera vs. Eric Morales-3 times, 2 victories by Barrera and 1 by Morales.
When an all Mexican fight card is to be posted should the Promoters state, “Puerto Ricans need not apply, the card is filled”?