Los Angeles (AFP) – Mexican boxer Leo Santa Cruz retained his WBA belt by earning a unanimous decision victory over Abner Mares on Saturday in a rematch of a 2015 featherweight title fight.
Santa Cruz improved to 34-1-1 with 19 career knockouts by winning on all three judges scorecards, 115-113, 116-112, 117-111 at the Staples Center arena.
“I did what I had to do to win the fight,” Santa Cruz said. “Mares is a tough fighter. Thank God I got the victory.”
Santa Cruz won despite suffering a cut over his left eye which was the result of a head butt from Mares in the eighth round. The cut bled for the remainder of the fight but didn’t appear to bother Santa Cruz much.
The pair fought once before on August 29, 2015 as Santa Cruz also won that one but by a majority decision.
After that victory, Santa Cruz actually lost the title to Carl Frampton in July 2016, but regained it back in January 2017.
Santa Cruz said he wasn’t going to be slowed down by the cut over his eye.
“A cut is a cut. It is just blood. It wasn’t bothering my eyes. It just gives me more motivation,” he said.
Santa Cruz also said that he wants his next fight to be against Gary Russell for the WBC featherweight title.
Mares, also of Mexico, drops to 31-3-1 (15 KOs) as he pushed for a third fight between the two.
“I am sorry I came out short,” said Mares. “It is always a problem trying to get inside on him. I fought my heart out but at the end of the day I did my best.
“Let’s do a third fight.”
On the undercard, WBC super welterweight champ Jermell Charlo successfully defended his belt for the third time, by flooring Austin Trout twice en route to a 12-round majority decision.
Charlo improved to 31-0 overall, while Trout fell to 31-5.