Leo Santa Cruz Stops Chris Avalos in Eight, Mares Rematch Next?

Leo Santa Cruz Stops Chris Avalos in Eight, Mares Rematch Next?

It was a year that produced his first career loss, a stunning 1st round knockout at the hands of Jhonny Gonzalez in this very venue on a night created to lead to a showdown with Santa Cruz while both were still unbeaten.

The first fight of the night was between Antonio DeMarco (32-6-1) and Eddie Ramirez (17-0) in the super lightweight division. His opponent, Guadalajara's Andres Gutierrez, was making only his third start outside Mexico, but he had notched some good wins while building a 35-1-1 record.

Mares started the fight off fast and landed several good combinations in the first round on a plodding Gutierrez.

Mares' continued to pummel Gutierrez in the third and fourth rounds, but Gutierrez displayed a granite chin and never appeared to be hurt. "I tried to give a great show", Santa Cruz said.

Avalos did his best to stand his ground, showing a willingness to trade with the defending champion in rounds two and three but paying a heavy price. He continued to land punches and by the 10 round Mares' injury was so bad he could not continue.

Mares returned to the ring last December and defeated heavily favored Jesus Cuellar to win the WBA "regular" featherweight title by a split decision.

The referee ruled earlier that the cut was due to a clash of heads, so they went to the cards.

The Mexican was stunned early in the session but came back fighting with a huge uppercut and then piled on the pressure to force a stoppage despite protests from Ramirez. He had no trouble landing punches on Avalos, but he was also able to get some counters on Santa Cruz - who closed the round with a big flurry of shots. However in the eighth after a series of punches from Santa Cruz referee Thomas Taylor stepped in and stopped Avalos from further damage stopping the fight at 1:34.

Mares, in only his second bout since losing to Santa Cruz more than two years ago, improved to 31-2 with one drawn after his 16th triumph inside the distance.

"I said before tonight, if I won this fight and Abner Mares won his fight, let's get it on for the first fight [of 2018]", insists Santa Cruz. Avalos was giving as good as he was getting.