Mexico’s Santa Cruz looks beyond Avalos title bout
>> LOS ANGELES: Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz defends his World Boxing Association featherweight title tomorrow morning (Thai time) against American Chris Avalos with an eye towards a possible championship rematch next year against countryman Abner Mares.
Santa Cruz, 33-1-1 with 18 KOs, meets Avalos, 27-5 with 20 KOs, in the main event at Carson, California, with Mares, 30-2 with one drawn and 15 KOs, facing fellow Mexican Andres Gutierrez, 35-1-1, on the card as well.
If Santa Cruz and Mares win, they have agreed to terms for a muchanticipated rematch for the 126pound crown early next year. Santa Cruz edged Mares by majority decision in 2015 for the same title.
“Hopefully I can come out victorious and then face all of the big names,” Santa Cruz said. “I want to rematch Mares and Carl Frampton then unify the division. I’m going to be ready to face anyone.”
Britain’s Frampton, a 30-year-old from Northern Ireland, took the title from Santa Cruz last year in New York but lost a January rematch in Las Vegas. Frampton is set for his first fight since that loss next month in Belfast.
Rival featherweight champions include Britain’s Lee Selby (25-1 with nine knockouts) with the International Boxing Federation title and American Gary Russell (28-1 with 17 KOs) with the World Boxing Council crown.
In his first bout since reclaiming the throne, Santa Cruz meets a challenger who dropped three of four bouts before stopping Miguel Flores in July.
“I want to get in there and test my body and see how I feel heading into the bigger fights in the future,” Santa Cruz said. “A lot of people think this will be easy for me, but I don’t see it that way.
“Chris Avalos is a tough fighter. He has 20 KOs so I’m not going to underestimate him. Up there in the ring anything can happen.”
HORN WINS AWARD
Boxer Jeff Horn’s stunning upset of Filipino great Manny Pacquiao has earned him one of Australia’s top sporting honours as the most inspirational athlete of the year.
The unheralded 29-year-old stunned the boxing world with a unanimous 12-round decision over Pacquiao in Brisbane on July 2 in a hotly contested result that rattled the Philippines.
In recognition, he walked away with ‘The Don’ award at the annual Sport Australia Hall Of Fame dinner in Melbourne on Thursday evening.
“It is massive,” Horn said, calling it a career highlight.
Leo Santa Cruz celebrates his win over Carl Frampton in January.