This past Saturday night brought us two title fights courtesy of Showtime Championship Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions. Both fights were scheduled for twelve rounds but neither fight got close to going the distance as two belts changed hands in surprising fashion. The main event featured Abner Mares who attempted to defend his WBC featherweight belt against Jhonny Gonzalez. Before that clash the WBC super bantamweight title changed hands in another thrilling fight between Victor Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KO’s) and the new champion Leo Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KO’s).
In the lower weight classes you expect a lot of action and the fight between Terrazas and Santa Cruz delivered. These two spent much of the first round in each others faces. Santa Cruz was pressing the action and Terrazas was happy to answer it back. They both made good use of the uppercut on the inside with Terrazas being slightly more effective with it. He also worked the body well near the opening end of the round and Santa Cruz used his jab effectively. As the taller, longer fighter you almost expect him to work the outside but he likes the inside. The first round was close and with neither fighter really doing significant damage to the other but they both landed a couple of good shots.
The second started out the same way as they went right back to the in close fighting. They exchanged several uppercuts and Terrazas mixed in a couple of hooks. Santa Cruz did a good job of working the body and the head. As Pauli Malignaggi pointed out, Terrazas was having success but it was all taking place where Santa Cruz wanted to fight. This can be a dangerous trap as the success you are having draws you deeper into the other fighters area. Terrazas also was stepping straight back at times leaving him open to the step-in right hand of Santa Cruz. As the round progressed Terrazas also started to work the body. When the round moved inside of one minute Santa Cruz started to take control of the fight landing a right upper cut, right upper cut, and left hook combination followed by several more shots. There was significant swelling under Terrazas’ right eye with a little over thirty seconds left in the round. Santa Cruz significantly outlanded Terrarzas to close out the round. With six seconds left in the round Santa Cruz landed a short right to the temple that seemed to wobble Terrazas, slightly.
In between rounds Terrazas’ corner was working on his right eye and it did not look good. The eye provided a target for Santa Cruz once the 2nd round got underway. We got to see the Mexican mastermind worked his jab more and continued to throw a lot of left hooks. As the round progressed he worked the body and mixed in the right hand. A little less than halfway through the round Santa Cruz landed a left hook that sent Terrazas down. He beat the count and the fight continued, but not for much longer. Smelling blood, Santa Cruz peppered Terrazas with punches to the body and the head. He landed a left hook to the body, Terrazas slipped a punch, then Santa Cruz landed a clean right uppercut. Terrazas threw one of his own, slipped one and then got hit with another right to the temple that put him down again. He was able to make it to his feet again but the ref had to stop the fight when Terrazas informed him that he could not see out of his right eye. Leo Santa Cruz is your new WBC super bantamweight champion.
It was a short action packed fight in which Santa Cruz stopped a tough opponent. He wore him down with his relentless attack looking dominant by the end of the fight. The numbers back this up as Santa Cruz landed 15 of 86 jabs, and 63 of 181 power punches for 78 of 267 overall. His opponent landed 3 of 61 jabs, and 30-95 power punches bringing his total to 33 of 156. It was almost scary how easy it was for Santa Cruz against the champion. Terrazas came into this fight with the reputation of being hard to stop yet he was inside of three rounds. Santa Cruz has been considered one the rising young stars of boxing we might have just seen his star ascend on this night.
In the main event we got to witness the tale of a classic young talented fighter entering into his prime in the champion, Abner Mares (26-0-1, 14 KO’s) taking on the challenger, a grizzled veteran of the sport, in Jhonny Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KO’s). The intrigue is further heightened by the Nacho Beristain factor, he was Mares’ first pro trainer and now is Gonzalez. This was also the first title defense for Mares of this particular belt, he was the heavy favorite going into the fight but Gonzalez knew otherwise and proved it with his stunning first round knockout.
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Stunning is the only way you could describe it. Gonzalez had seven first round stoppages in his career so you knew the power was there. It is just the fact that no one outside of the Gonzalez camp thought that he could do it this quickly and easily. They might have even been a little bit surprised themselves. Mares is not some inflated overhyped champion who has been fighting easy tailored opponents. He has faced some of the toughest fighters available; he’s one of those guys that feels like the challenge makes him a better fighter and it is refreshing to see that attitude in a talented fighter. It is a part of the reason the experts and fans are so high on Mares. This loss should not diminish any of that as Gonzalez proved he is still a very dangerous opponent capable of knocking anybody out.
This fight was about what he did to win it versus Mares losing it. Gonzalez set the left hook up beautifully and caught Mares flush with it. They spent most of the first two minutes of this instant classic in the feeling out process. Mares used good movement to get inside, did some damage and then get out again. He was using his jab, mixing in some hooks and a few combinations for good measure. It looked like it was going to be one of those first rounds where the two fighters just got comfortable with each other’s timing. It looked like Mares was going to do just enough to put it in the books on his side. That changed suddenly.
During those first two minutes Gonzalez was using a touch jab – he was just flicking it out there. It was not a crisp, stinging one. It was more a nuisance than anything else, so it appeared as the broadcast crew was speculating on its purpose. Then, BOOM! The left hook suddenly landed and Mares went down with thirty-nine seconds left in the round. We quickly found out the purpose behind the jab and that was to set Mares up for that hook. He flicked the jab out and could have landed it but instead it was a little short. Mares stepped back a little to avoid the jab, reset himself and was leaning forward and that is when Gonzalez pounced. He stepped forward and threw the wide open left hook and it landed clean catching Mares as he was coming in. Mares was able to get back up, but not for very long. Gonzalez smelled the title and went to work efficiently, and after a couple of glancing hooks caught him clean yet again. This time he also landed the right as Mares was starting to go crashing down to the canvas once again. The ref started the count and then quickly waved it off based on the way Mares’ eyes looked. It was a testament to his fighting spirit that Mares wanted to continue but the ref made the right call.
It was one of those rare nights where we saw the challenger prevail in two exciting title fights, capped off by a startling dramatic KO in the latter of the two battles. Do not be surprised if we get a rematch between Mares and Gonzalez, this one was over just as it seemed like it was getting started and Mares will learn plenty from the mistakes he made in this fight. Regardless of what happens next, this one belonged to Gonzalez as he was the champion at the end of this night.
Article via Dwayne Wolff
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