Middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin could soon defend his WBO title against promotional stablemate Danny Jacobs.
Q&A: Schaefer discusses Mares, Santa Cruz
Both Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz are causing a buzz after stepping up in weight and knocking out their respective opponents.
A 27-year-old resident of Montebello, Calif., Mares (26-0-1, 14 knockouts) is coming off a ninth-round stoppage of Daniel Ponce de Leon for the WBC's featherweight title, during which he scored knockdowns in the second and final rounds.
Ranked No. 5 pound-for-pound by THE RING, Mares' victory made him a three-division titlewinner in his 126-pound debut on the undercard of a unanimous decision by welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. over Robert Guerrero.
Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs) had debuted as a junior featherweight in the fight prior to Mares', dropping former 115-pound beltholder Alexander Munoz twice en route to a fifth-round TKO. Munoz, who won his first 23 bouts by stoppage, was knocked out for the first time in his career by Santa Cruz, a 24-year-old from Rosemead, Calif.
Mares added Ponce de Leon to an already impressive resume, having twice beaten ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earned a decision over former beltholder Vic Darchinyan and battled to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez -- all over a 20-month span as a bantamweight.
After defeating Agbeko by consecutive majority and unanimous decisions, the latter in December of 2011, Mares rose to 122 pounds for a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Eric Morel in April of last year to earn the WBC's belt.
In November of last year, Mares scored a unanimous decision over WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno, who rose in weight to challenge for the junior featherweight belt. Mares dropped the Panamanian in the fifth round and ended his 27-bout winning streak.
Other potential opponents for Mares would be Nonito Donaire, current RING, WBA and WBO titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux, JuanMa Lopez, Orlando Salido or RING and WBO featherweight champion Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia -- though all five are handled by Golden Boy rival Top Rank and thus the bouts are unlikely to happen. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has Garcia facing Lopez on June 15.
Santa Cruz has risen from the bantamweight division, where he won the IBF belt by unanimous decision over Vusi Malinga last June.
Santa Cruz was recently mandated to face WBC 122-pound Mexican champion Victor Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KOs), whose promoter, Fernando Beltran, has close ties with Top Rank. The WBC has ordered a deal to be struck by June 7, according to Schaefer, otherwise a purse bid will be ordered on that day.
Mares and Santa Cruz share similarly heartwarming story lines. Mares dedicated his fight against Ponce de Leon to his father, Ismael, who had suffered a stroke two months earlier. Santa Cruz did the same during his effort for his ailing brother, Roberto, who suffers from the potentially life-threatening disease, lupus.
Schaefer discussed potential scenarios for Mares and Santa Cruz in this Q&A below.
Photo by Al Bello-Gettyimages ,
Photo by Ethan Miller-Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org