Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares have established themselves as two of the best lightweight fighters in the modern era of boxing.  Now, they square off Saturday night at the Staples Center in front of a live television audience on ESPN.  The fight between the two is one of the most significant featherweight bouts in the 21st century.  The reason being, both fighters are in the primes of the career and are equally matched for each other.  Something the sport of boxing needs.  For example the Mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao happened years later than it should have.  Floyd 38, and Pacquiao 36 were not the same fighters they were earlier in the careers when the fight happened.   Santa Cruz (27) and Mares (29) are both young, explosive, and exciting fighters to watch.

Besides their records, both fighters have something bigger on the line.  Pride.  Santa Cruz and Mares are both Mexican Born fighters who have worked there way to the top each in their own unique way.  With the fight looming both fighters have come out saying they will give the fans there moneys worth.  Mexican fighters always seem to be more active in the ring offensively, something fans and media have been dying for.

“No one wants to lose. We’re going to leave everything in the ring. When two Mexicans fight each other, it’s always bloody. We both have everything to lose.”  said Santa Cruz.  Via ESPN

“I’ve been looking forward to this fight for many years; many years fans have been excited,” Mares said. “I’ve been wanting to fight. I’ve been calling out Leo this whole year, called him out on radio shows, in person. And it’s finally here. I’m really, really excited to fight.” Via ESPN

Mares has a slight edge as far as experience is concerned.  This is Santa Cruz’s second consecutive fight in the feather weight division and has mostly fought no names in the weight class.  Mares on the other hand has more experience in the division winning a belt in the process.  However, Mares lost the belt in 2013 and since then has fought three soft fighters.

This fight has different meaning to both men.

Santa Cruz (left) and Mares (right)

For Santa Cruz it is about building a legacy and proving he is a force to be reckoned with in the Featherweight division.

“I wanted to listen to the fans and the criticism, and then I wished I could choose and say I’m going to fight this fighter, and just go on ahead and fight him. But I had to leave it to my team,” Santa Cruz said. “They’re here to protect me. They know what’s right. So that’s why I listen to [Haymon, and to Santa Cruz’s father/trainer Jose Santa Cruz] and they know what’s best. But sooner or later, I’m going to fight the fight that the fans want. Via ESPN

“I need this win for my legacy and to get to that next level. I’m here to fight the best.” Via ESPN

For Mares its about proving he is still the premier fighter in the division.

“I’ve definitely faced tougher opponents than he has,” Mares said of Santa Cruz. “I’ve been in against legitimate champions. I’m taking him to deep waters. My loss is completely forgotten. In life you have obstacles, especially in this sport. I’m over it. I’m back. This is where I want to be. When I fight guys the level of Leo Santa Cruz, it brings the best out of me.

“I’m going up against a young, undefeated, talented and strong Leo Santa Cruz. He’s never tasted defeat. All of that motivates me to go in there and be the first one to take him down.” via ESPN

The fight is scheduled for 10 pm ET. on ESPN.  Santa Cruz is 30-0-1 and Mares is 29-1-1.

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Aniello Piro

Spark Sports Analyst