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PBC on ESPN Preview: Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares, Ruiz vs. Ceja


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night Premier Boxing Champions Series will broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles California as two of Mexico’s best boxers, Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares, compete in the main event of the night in the featherweight division.

This card will be televised live on ESPN and Hugo Ruiz and Julio Ceja will open up the telecast in a WBC Interim junior featherweight title bout. The undercard will feature boxers such as Alfredo Angulo, Anthony Flores, and Antonio Santa Cruz.

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Only two bouts are guaranteed to be televised and the following is a preview of both of those bouts.

Hugo Ruiz (35-2) vs. Julio Cesar Ceja (29-1); WBC Interim Junior Featherweight Title

The opening bout of the night is between two Mexican boxers that have spent a majority of their career fighting in Mexico.

Julio Ceja is a young fighter that will be giving up about four inches in height and about five inches in reach to the taller Ruiz. Ceja, however, is six years younger than Ruiz and has a slightly higher knockout ratio. Ceja has stopped twenty six of his opponents while Ruiz has stopped thirty one of his opponents.

Neither boxer has any notable international amateur accolades to write about.

Neither boxer has an overly impressive professional resume. Ceja has defeated the likes of Juan Jose Montes, Henry Maldonado, Cruz Carbajal, and Alejandro Morales. His lone loss was to Jamie McDonnell for the IBF Bantamweight World Title in May of 2013.

Ruiz has faced slightly better opposition in his career. His lone losses were a close split decision loss to Koki Kameda in Kameda’s backyard of Osaka, Japan and an earlier loss to Enrique Quevedo way back in 2007. He has defeated the likes of Ramon Maas, Jean Sampson, Francisco Arce, Jesus Vasquez, and Julio Cesar Miranda.

This is a tough fight to call, with both fighters losing the one time they left Mexico to fight. It could truly go either way.

Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1) vs. Abner Mares (29-1-1); Featherweights

This bout has been talked about for several years and has been marinating in the minds of the boxing public since Santa Cruz and Mares have been promoted by the same promoter for several years now and are in similar weight classes. It has the potential to be an action packed affair since both Santa Cruz have shown in prior bouts that they aren’t afraid to brawl and both are known for throwing a high volume of punches in their bouts.

Leo Santa Cruz stated at the latest media workouts,”We both have a lot to prove. Neither of us want to lose. I know he’s really hungry to get the victory. I don’t want my first defeat so I’m going to go out there and put a show on.”

Santa Cruz has the edge in all the physicals. He will have a three inch height advantage, a three inch reach advantage, and he is two years younger than Mares. They have similar knockout ratios. Santa Cruz has stopped seventeen of his opponents, including two of his past five victories. Mares has stopped fifteen of his opponents, also including two of his past five fights.

Mares’ lone blemish on his record came in August of 2013 when he was shockingly stopped in the first round by the rugged veteran Jhonny Gonzalez. Santa Cruz is undefeated and his lone draw came in his second professional fight, which was only four rounds.

Santa Cruz has defeated the likes of Jesus Ruiz, Cristian Mijares, Cesar Seda, Victor Terrazas, Victor Zaleta, Eric Morel, and Vusi Malinga.

Mares has defeated the likes of Jonathan Oquendo, Anselmo Moreno, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Eric Morel, Joseph Agbeko, Vic Darchinyan, and Yonnhy Perez.

Mares has the better list of defeated opponents thus far in their careers, and he knows it. He stated to the media, “My experience is going to be the difference in this fight. I’ve faced tougher opponents and been a three-time champion. Every time that I fight someone at this level, it brings the best out of Abner Mares.”

However, the chin of Mares was exposed by Jhonny Gonzalez and he is the naturally smaller man. Santa Cruz keeps up an incredible pace when he fights and it’s more than likely he will be able to test the chin of Mares early and often.

It should be a good bout, but it’s a bout that you have to favor Santa Cruz to win.

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Press Conf Quotes:

Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday:

LEO SANTA CRUZ

“This is my dream since I was small. I wanted to be the main event and I worked hard for it. I never gave up. I’m so excited to be here in my hometown seeing my hard work paying off.

“I’m well prepared. This is the hardest fight of my career but that’s why I train hard. These are the fights I want because these are the fights the fans want.

“We’re going to go out with the intention of knocking him out. If we can’t, we’re still going to make a great fight for the fans and find a way to get the victory.

“I need this win for my legacy and to get to that next level. I’m here to fight the best.

“Every fighter has a weakness. When we get inside the ring we’re going to find it. We have a great game plan and it’s going to show on Saturday.

“I’m very motivated by keeping my 0 intact. I want to show the world that I deserve to fight the best. If I beat Abner, I can get to that next level. I’m very motivated to go out there and get the win.

“I think the crowd will be 50-50. We’re both from here so it’s going to be crazy. At the end of the fight it’s going to be rowdy. We’re excited that they’re showing love and we’ll give them a great fight.

“I can’t wait for Saturday night to give everybody a great show. You don’t want to miss it.”

ABNER MARES

“I think I’ve done enough talking. I’ve talked about how I’m going to beat him and I know I’m going to get it done.

“It’s here. I’m ready to put it to work. I’m going to do what I know how to do, which is fight and give it my all.

“I’m blessed to be here. I’m excited to be fighting at STAPLES Center. It shows all the hard work I’ve put in.

“I’m not worried about the crowd and who they’re rooting for. I’m there to make everybody a believer. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere and I can’t wait.

“I’ve definitely faced tougher opponents than he has. I’ve been in against legitimate champions. I’m taking him to deep waters.

“My loss is completely forgotten. In life you have obstacles, especially in this sport. I’m over it. I’m back. This is where I want to be. When I fight guys the level of Leo Santa Cruz it brings the best out of me.

“It’s time. It’s time to give everybody a “Fight of the Year”. There’s no doubt. I’m going to go in there and have fun.”

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