Albert Baker
Photo Credit: Suzanne Teresa

Leo Santa Cruz 31-0-1 17KOs ended the criticism of his talent tonight as he handed rival Abner Mares 29-2-1 15KOs his second defeat in a raucous and crowd pleasing performance in the Battle for Los Angeles at the Staples Center in downtown LA.

In a fight that was tailor made for the heavily Mexican-American populated city of Los Angeles two Mexicans from the Los Angeles area were matched and marketed to the local population in a battle for bragging rights as the king of LA. Empty seats were seen in patches throughout the upper deck of the Staples center but there is no doubt that the fight sold well, until figures are released I assume the gate was a success. Even with one fifth of the stadium empty because of that god awful stage the PBC uses to introduce their fighters.

During the build up to the fight Mares criticized Santa Cruz’s level of competition saying “We’ll see how he does against an A level type of fighter”, that prompted Mares to come out blazing in the first round with furious pressure and punches in bunches, backing up Santa Cruz. Mares continued the furious pace into the second but, towards the end of the round started to slow. Not slow terribly because this fight featured a pair of fighters that should be commended and truly there were no losers as both fighters surely added to their fan-bases as they threw a combined 2037 punches.

Santa Cruz began to establish his distance in the third round and landed his jab, right hand combination more and more frequently as Mares didn’t display the type of footwork and angles required to throw off the forward plodding fighter.

Mares would lunge in with over hand rights and connect to ooh and aah the crowd but nothing ever slowed the constant methodical pressure of Santa Cruz.

On scores of 117-111 twice and 114-114 (amazingly) Santa Cruz finally got a signature win in his career and the mythical title of King of Los Angeles. The victory sets himself up for some bigger bouts in the future but most likely with the local success of this fight the folks at the PBC will probably set up a rematch that may not do as well on television but will definitely sell in California.

A match up with Gary Russel Jr. would make the most sense since he will soon be in need of an elite level opponent but a bout like that is risky and risky bouts hasn’t exactly been the strong suit of the brass in charge of match-making for the fledgling albeit powerful outfit.

Following the fight Santa Cruz said “I was surprised Abner came out so strong. He came right at me but we figured him out and we got the win.” On a rematch with Mares Santa Cruz said “if he wants the rematch I’ll give him the rematch. I want to fight the best, I want the big fights.”

Mares said “It was a close fight but, I thought I won the fight.” On the possibility of a rematch “I’m more than willing to have a rematch. It was a close fight. I knew he had never faced a fighter like me and he proved to day he’s a great fighter.”

Santa Cruz showed the ability to adapt and rise to the occasion against an undeterred opponent that won’t go away easily, and that he has the chops to headline and fill stadiums that alone will earn him a spot amongst the sports elite.

Julio Cesar Ceja 29-1 27KOs should have called the Los Angeles Fire Department before his match against fellow Mexican Hugo Ruiz 35-3 30KOs, to be on alert for local barns to randomly explode into flame. Ceja and Ruiz produced an exciting fight that saw both fighters hit the canvas.
Ceja, the aggressor came forward to press the pace in the first as Ruiz accurately landed check left hooks and counter right uppercuts on the inside to win the round. The third round saw Ruiz land a massive left hook at the end of the punch to the chin of Ceja dropping him. Ruiz tried to follow up and go in for the kill but appeared to punch himself out a bit heading into the fourth round.

With his legs back under him Ceja took the momentum back as Ruiz looked to take the round off and recover. At 58 seconds left in the fifth round left hook from Ceja that Ruiz never saw coming put him down hard. Beating the count Ruiz was on spaghetti legs as Ceja pounced on Ruiz dropping him again as referee Raul Caiz mercifully jumped in to save Ruiz with 26 seconds left in the fifth.

Alejandro Luna 19-0 14KOs stopped an overmatched but game Sergio Lopez 18-10-1 12KOs at 34 seconds in the fourth round. Luna appears to be ready for a step up in competition on future cards.

Fans love a humble fighter that does nothing more than fight to please them. Alfredo Angulo 24-5-20KOs who is beloved in Los Angeles stopped Hector Munoz 22-16-1 14KOs as he quit on his stool at the end of the fifth round.

Angulo landed a hard right hand in the fourth round that put Munoz on the canvas at the close of the fourth round. Munoz suffered a nasty cut over his right eye that appeared to come from a punch, it didn’t matter though Angulo was the aggressor and dominant fighter from the outset.

This fight looked to be just what the doctor ordered for Angulo and puts him on a two win streak since being upset by James De La Rosa in September of last year. With a big following on the west coast Angulo still makes sense for undercards and proves to be a stiff test for anyone lacking speed and footwork.

Garden Grove, California product Jesse Roman 20-2 9KOs won a unanimous decision against Huntington Park’s Hector Serrano 17-5 5KO’s on scores of 79-72 on all three judges’ cards. Roman was the crisper of the two as he counter the plodding Serrano’s attacks with sharp right uppercuts and hooks.

Roman landed a nasty right uppercut, right hook combination to drop Serrano at 2:10 in the seventh round. Roman has now won three fights in a row since dropping a split decision to Joaquin Chavez in August of last year.

Brian Castano 13-0 9KOs tried his hardest to look impressive as he dominated Johnathan Batista 14-7 7KOs, the only problem was that Batista didn’t come to fight or even attempt to be competitive. Batista who was landed plenty of punches to Castano’s fists with his face was docked two points in the third round and warned by referee Ray Corona that a disqualification was coming if he didn’t attempt to swing north of the border.

After a third, yes you read correctly third point deducted for low blows in the fourth referee Ray Corona was done giving Batista the benefit of the doubt and thankfully for the fans in attendance ended the fight to give Castano the victory via disqualification.

Alan Castano 9-0 6KOs stopped Thomas Howard 8-5 4KOs with :06 left in the second round . Castano dominated the fight from the outset and thankfully put an end to the bout early.

Anthony Flores 9-0 5KOs got by Curtis Morton 3-5-3 with a MD on scores of 58-56 twice and 57-57. Flores was the busier of the two and did just enough to eek out the win.

Paul Mendez 20-2-2 10KOs of Delano, California won via TKO3 over Andrik Saralegui 19-3 15KOs. Mendez dropped Saralegui in the second round with a hard right hand that signaled the beginning of the end. Between rounds Sarlegui’s corner signaled referee Ray Corona to end the fight handing Mendez the victory.

Antonio Santa Cruz 0-1 the cousin of main-event fighter Leo Santa Cruz lost in his pro debut against a tough Isaiah Najera 1-1. Santa Cruz has a little to build on as he throws a nice right hand but lacks the punching output of his famous cousin. The judges scored the fight 39-37

Opening the card Jose Gomez 3-0 earned a four round unanimous decision over Manuel Rubalcava 2-14 on scores of 40-36 from all three judges.