Santa Cruz and Mares to fight familiar Frampton foes in October tune-ups


Mexican-Americans Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares will not face each other this October, but they will take on opponents that are very familiar to Carl Frampton [23(14)-1(0)].

The California-based duo were due to lock horns on the West Coast on Saturday October 7th for Santa Cruz’s WBA title, but the reigning champion’s team wanted a warm-up first ahead of the rematch of their 2015 clash.

Now both will appear on the same card on Saturday October 14th at the StubHub Centre in Carson and wins for both will set up a rematch in early 2018 – putting a third Frampton-Santa Cruz fight on the backburner.

Lance Pugmire of the LA Times has now confirmed the opponents for both, and they will be very recognisable to fans of ‘The Jackal.’

In his first defence since reclaiming the title, ‘El Terremoto’ Santa Cruz [33(18)-1(0)-1] will face former Frampton opponent Chris Avalos [27(20)-5(3)].

The Belfast boxer defended his IBF super bantamweight title for the first time against the same opponent back in 2015, dominating and stopping him in the fifth round at the SSE Odyssey Arena following a heated build-up.

Since that loss, Avalos went on to beat Ray Perez before being stopped by Oscar Valdez – who won the WBO featherweight title soon after. He would lose to Mark Magsayo after this before pulling off an upset win against Miguel Flores last month.

In the chief support bout, Mares [30(15)-2(1)-1] will fight proposed Frampton opponent Andres Gutierrez [35(25)-1(0)-1].

The Mexican was due to face Frampton last month in a Belfast homecoming for ‘The Jackal’ at the SSE Odyssey Arena. The fight, and indeed the entire card, was called off the night before when ‘Jaguarcito’ slipped and fell in the shower, suffering facial lacerations and severe dental damage.

The WBC eliminator was initially due to be rescheduled, with a November date mooted, but Cyclone would confirm the cancellation earlier this month before Frampton later announced that he would be parting company with the McGuigan-run outfit.

The WBA ‘regular’ belt won by Mares off Jesus Cuellar last year will be on the line on the card in just over six weeks time.

In their initial fight at the Staples Centre in Los Angles, Santa Cruz won a twelve round majority decision to win the WBA featherweight title for the first time.

Neither of their reported opponents feature in the most recent WBA world rankings.

Fans are awaiting news of Frampton’s next move following the split from Cyclone. A deepening of ties with American adviser Al Haymon, who is also involved with Santa Cruz and Mares, has been seen as the likeliest next step for the Tiger’s Bay 30 year old.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie