A decent card at the StubHub Center in Carson, California should bring forth a quality night of boxing. Topping the bill is WBA (Super) champion Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1) in his featherweight title defence against America’s Chris Avalos (27-5). The irony is that this main event match-up is probably among the most predictable bouts on the card. The tough and willing Avalos steps into the ring with three stoppage losses against him, in his last five encounters. It is difficult to envisage a different outcome on Saturday night, with him being drastically outclassed and out-gunned by his Mexican opponent.
Most fight-fans would rather see Santa Cruz take on his old foe, Abner Mares (30-2-1). However, rather than the hoped for rematch Mares will instead fight his Mexican compatriot Andres Gutierrez (35-1-1). The regular WBA title will be on the table in what presents an intriguing and entertaining contest.
For those perplexed by the fact that the WBA has two featherweight world champions; fear not. The small print on their website provides a thorough explanation. Although, save yourself the Google time, and content yourself in knowing it is just another mechanism to create more title fights, and trouser a few extra dollars.
Leo Santa Cruz vs Chris Avalos, WBA Super World featherweight title
Where: StubHub Center, Carson, California, USA
When: Saturday, 14th October, 7:30pm ET / 12:30am UK time
TV: USA FOX. SKY Sports
Leo Santa Cruz vs Chris Avalos, WBA (Super) featherweight title
Leo Santa Cruz is a three time world champion at multiple weights. The only defeat on “El Terremoto’s” record is an epic majority decision defeat to Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton. A loss he reversed, in his last ring appearance, back in January. Following that victory he is unquestionably the number one fighter in the featherweight division.
Chris Avalos would struggle to make most people’s top 20, with the WBA only ranking him 11th on their list. The 27-year-old was once considered a decent prospect, but that epithet has largely slipped away following disappointing defeats to Christopher Martin and Columbia’s Jhonathan Romero.
Avalos, known as “The Hitman” for his front-foot style, had a shot at Carl Frampton’s IBF super bantamweight title back in 2015 and got stiffed in five rounds. He has since followed that up with a couple more losses. Despite being only 27 it is hard not to feel that these are career defining, and it is difficult to see where Avalos can progress from here.
The one shining light is that he is easy on the eye and his attacking style is a boon for promoters and television cameras. That coupled with his less than concrete defence should place him in the classic future opponent class and help guarantee some further paydays.
This fight is nothing more than a gap filler for Santa Cruz to stay active ahead of a rematch with Mares in 2018. The appearance of both fighters on the same card, will aid marketability and intensify the hype for this expected encounter.
Expect Avalos to come forward gamely and give it his best shot. He may even achieve some minor results in the early rounds. However, Santa Cruz’s more tactically adept aggression will ultimately dismantle the American’s vulnerable defence. If Avalos can make it to the middle rounds, without the referee calling a halt, then that should be considered a decent night’s work.
Any investors looking to make a profit on this one will need to have the combined wealth of Donald Trump and Richard Branson and a very docile bookmaker. The latest odds quote Santa Cruz as the 1/200 favourite.
Abner Mares vs Andres Gutierrez, WBA featherweight title
The 31-year-old Mares is a four time world champion across weight divisions. His first defeat coming at featherweight when the experienced Jhonny Gonzalez pulled off a major shock, by knocking him out in the first round of their WBC title match-up. Since then he has notched up four wins in five appearances, including a comfortable win over Jesus Andres Cuellar for the WBA belt. The one blemish being that points loss to Leo Santa Cruz.
Andres Gutierrez comes armed with a decent record containing 25 knockouts and just a single defeat. The weakness is that the 35 wins that Gutierrez has established in his eight-year career, contain practically no one of note. His only step up in class being against the veteran Cristian Mijares, who incidentally beat him to a narrow yet unanimous point’s victory. An opponent that Santa Cruz had earlier dominated over 12 rounds.
Gutierrez has collected a host of second division international belts, and that is perhaps his level. He will though hope to prove doubters wrong and demonstrate his world class potential by getting his hands on the full WBA belt. He is most well known in Britain for slipping in the shower, and the resulting facial injuries causing his summer bout with Carl Frampton to be postponed at the 11th hour.
This is only Mares’ second outing in 26 months so expect a slow start. Mares will then move through the gears but will not find enough to despatch Gutierrez inside the distance. Instead, it will go to the judges’ cards for a unanimous points success.
A lengthy undercard features some decent action. The pick of the match-ups would be unbeaten American prospect Eddie Ramirez’s (17-0) bout with Antonio De Marco (32-6-1). The former WBC champion has struggled to get his career back on track since losing the belt to Adrien Broner back in 2012 and has been relatively inactive since. He should though at least provide a solid learning curve for the young American in their welterweight contest.
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