By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Showtime counters HBO’s Boxing After Dark Series with a packed card that features two world title bouts. Abner Mares will be defending his WBC Junior Featherweight Title against Anselmo Moreno in the main event while Leo Santa Cruz defends his IBF Bantamweight Title against Victor Zaleta.
Alfredo Angulo and the WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Nathan Cleverly will be on the undercard, but the Cleverly’s opponent is clearly overmatched and will likely not be on the televised card.
Alfredo Angulo (20-2) vs. Raul Casarez (19-2); Junior Middleweight
Angulo and Casarez have similar records, but the difference in quality of opponents and overall talent is vast.
Angulo has recently overcome some immigration issues and had to spend seven months at the immigration detention center in El Centro, California until his work visa issues were worked out. He was released on August 14th and has had three months to train and get himself back into shape.
This will be Angulo’s first fight since his TKO loss to James Kirkland in November of last year in a thrilling back and forth affair. Angulo has considerable knockout power, as only three of his victories have gone to decision. He’s fought some formidable competition in the past three years, including a KO/TKO victories over the surging Gabriel Rosado, Harry Joe Yorgey, Joel Julio, and Joachim Alcine.
Angulo also lost to Kermit Cintron in May of 2009, but that was back when Cintron was still a viable contender. Angulo’s fights almost always excite the crowd and his last sixteen victories were stoppage wins.
Angulo’s opponent Raul Casarez is five years younger, but that may be the only advantage he has. Only 9 of his 19 victories have come by way of KO or TKO, and his record is littered with opponents who have sub .500 records. One of his two losses came against an opponent with a 4-11-1 record.
Casarez, however, has not lost since 2005 and is currently riding a five-fight win streak. Unfortunately for Casarez, he is clearly overmatched.
The biggest question in this fight is how will the seven months in detention affect Alfredo Angulo? With an opponent like Casarez standing across the ring from him, Angulo is unlikely to get tested and should easily get a stoppage victory.
Leo Santa Cruz (21-0) vs. Victor Zaleta (20-2-1); IBF Bantamweight Title
There is a possibility that the winner of this fight will fight the winner of Mares and Moreno. But the odds are stacked heavily in favor of Leo Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz will have a slight height and reach advantage on Saturday night, as well as a possible weight advantage. Zaleta has spent most of his career fighting in the Super Flyweight Division.
Santa Cruz had over 150 career amateur fights and won the gold medal at the World Amateur Championships when he was only fifteen years old. He won the IBF Bantamweight Championship in June of this year when he beat Vusi Malinga. He followed that victory with a stoppage over the tough Eric Morel in September of this year.
This will be Santa Cruz’s fourth fight of the year and he has been doing what every good young professional boxer should be doing: staying busy. His KO ratio isn’t overly impressive, 12 of his 21 victories have come by way of KO or TKO.
His opponent, Victor Zaleta, has spent his entire career fighting in Mexico or South America. His last fight was a draw with Juan Jose Montes for the WBF Super Flyweight title. He lost to Omar Andres Narvaez in February of 2011 in Narvaez’s home country of Argentinia. His first defeat came against Faustino Cupul in September of 2008.
Zaleta’s fight against Santa Cruz will likely be similar to Narvaez’s defeat to Nonito Donaire. He’ll be a visibly smaller fighter in the ring against a superior talented boxer. It’ll be a shocking upset of Zaleta pulls off the victory.
Abner Mares (24-0) vs. Anselmo Moreno (33-1-1); WBC Junior Featherweight Title
The main event of the night is also the most compelling and competitive fight on paper. These two are only one year apart in age, but Moreno will have a two-inch height advantage as well as a three-and-a-half inch reach advantage.
Mares has a much deeper amateur background than Moreno. He represented Mexico in the 2004 Olympics as a bantamweight and turned professional in 2005. Mares competed in Showtime’s single elimination bantamweight tournament and defeated the Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko to win the tournament.
Mares won the WBC Super Bantamweight Title in April of 2012 with a decision victory over Eric Morel. The only blemish on Morel’s record was a draw against Yonnhy Perez in May of 2010.
Mares is known more for his technical boxing skills than his knockout power: only 13 of his 24 victories have come by way of KO or TKO. He is the real deal, but Moreno will be by far his toughest challenge to date.
Moreno won his first championship in May of 2008 with a victory over Wladimir Sidorenko. He fights out of a southpaw stance and is tall for his weight class, so he presents many significant problems for the smaller Mares. He does not have knockout power: less than a third of his victories have come by way of KO or TKO.
Moreno also defeated Vic Darchinyan, but he defeated him by a wider margin on the judges’ scorecards than did Mares. Only three of Moreno’s opponents had a losing record at the time they fought, and they were all early in his career. Moreno has been tested and tested often, and he has passed every test. His only loss was when he was only eighteen years old, a four-round split decision loss to Ricardo Molina.
Can Moreno beat Mares?
Yes, if he stays on the outside and uses his reach and height to his advantage.
Will he beat Mares?
It’s unlikely. Mares has received a lot of hype from his promotional company and it is well deserved. Most fight fans would love to see a fight between Mares and Donaire, but Mares has to defeat Moreno first.