Officials announced a pair of fights that could lead to a much-talked-about rematch for October.
In the main event, Leo Santa Cruz defends his featherweight title against Chris Avalos on FOX from the StubHub Center in Carson, California on October 14.
That same night, former four-time champion Abner Mares defends his 126-pound title against Andres Gutierrez. Wins by both, and the two will rematch over the WBA featherweight title next year.
Below is a press release:
Sensational three-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz will defend his featherweight world title against Chris Avalos, while four-time world champion Abner Mares defends his 126-pound championship against once-beaten Andres Gutierrez at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. on a show presented by Premier Boxing Champions live on FOX and FOX Deportes on Saturday, October 14. Televised coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
If Santa Cruz and Mares win their respective matches, they have both agreed to terms to meet in a highly anticipated rematch for the WBA featherweight title in early 2018. Santa Cruz won a hard-fought, narrow decision against Mares in a 2015 Fight of the Year candidate that saw the two men go toe-to-toe for 12 fast-paced rounds and combine for over 2,000 punches thrown.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Promotions and TGB Promotions, are priced at $30, $50, $75, $100, $150, and $250 and are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit AXS.com HERE.
“Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares are two of the best featherweight champions in boxing and to have them both fighting on the same card is a treat for boxing fans,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Against Avalos, Santa Cruz will have the opportunity to demonstrate why he’s considered one of the most skilled and durable fighters in the division and in his first defense since winning the title Mares can expect a rugged challenge from Gutierrez, who has only lost once in his career and by a close decision.”
“This is going to be a jam-packed afternoon of can’t-miss action for boxing fans in Southern California,” said Richard Schaefer, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports. “StubHub Center brings out the best in fighters and I expect that to continue when Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares defend their titles against two hungry challengers in Chris Avalos and Andres Gutierrez. Ringstar Sports, along with TGB Promotions, are looking forward to putting together an exciting card full of future stars and compelling bouts for the great fans at StubHub Center and watching on FOX and FOX Deportes.”
Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) established himself as one of the top featherweights in the world in matches against Mares and Carl Frampton. Cruz lost a close decision to Frampton in 2016 and avenged the loss with a decision victory on Jan. 28 in Las Vegas. The 29-year-old was unbeaten in his first 33 pro fights on his way to world titles at 118, 122 and 126-pounds. With a victory over Avalos, Santa Cruz, who fights out of Los Angeles, will cement his hold on featherweight supremacy and stay on the path to that showdown with Mares.
“I’m excited to get back in the ring,” said Santa Cruz. “I’ve been working hard in camp and it’s great to be back in the gym. Chris Avalos is a tough contender who’s fought the best in the division. I love my fans and I’m planning on giving them a great show. I never overlook any opponent, but my plan is to put on a great performance, and then give fans more exciting fights against Abner Mares and Carl Frampton. I’m ready to prove I’m the best featherweight in the world.”
Fighting out of Lancaster, California, Avalos (27-5, 20 KOs) will be vying for a featherweight title for the first time. He came up short in his other world championship bout, losing the 122-pound world championship Carl Frampton via knockout in 2015. In his most recent bout, Avalos scored a TKO victory over Miguel Flores when the fight was stopped on cuts in the fifth round on July 18 in the main event on FS1 and FOX Deportes.
“I grew up with Leo Santa Cruz, so I know how to fight him,” said Avalos. “We did a lot of sparring wearing headgear as amateurs, and I put a hurting on him back in the day. I’m not scared. I’m ready to fight. I know in the back of his mind, he’ll be thinking about that. I know I’m the underdog, but I’m not scared. I have a game plan and I know I’m going to win. I’ve fought two champions and lost to Carl Frampton and Oscar Valdez, but I’m a much better fighter and I’m more focused now than I was for those fights. I’ve got the opportunity I’ve been waiting for and I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) has fought some of the best competition between the 118-126 pound divisions and has claimed world titles in three different weight classes during his pro career. The 31-year-old climbed back into the championship ranks in December of 2016 by dropping featherweight Jesus Cuellar in a hard-fought, narrow decision victory. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and fighting out of Robert Garcia’s gym in Riverside, Calif., Mares has taken down former champions Daniel Ponce De Leon, Joseph Agbeko and Anselmo Moreno in a career that dates back to his time representing Mexico at the 2004 Olympics.
“I’m excited to be getting back in the ring on October 14 at StubHub in Los Angeles on FOX and FOX Deportes,” Mares said. “My fans will once again see the boxing style and strength that won me my WBA Featherweight title in December. I’m stronger, faster and committed to keeping that title and taking the others. My opponent is a strong challenger and we will bring an action filled fight for boxing fans. I am the people’s warrior and a boxer they can believe in. You don’t want to miss this fight.”
The 24-year-old Gutierrez (35-1-1, 25 KOs) suffered the first loss of his career when he dropped a narrow decision to tough veteran Cristian Mijares last year. That interrupted a 16-fight win streak that included nine knockouts and began after he fought to a draw with Jesus Ruiz in 2011. Gutierrez, of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, was set to fight Carl Frampton in a title eliminator in July, but the fight was called off when Gutierrez fell in his bathroom in Belfast, Ireland and broke his nose, lost two teeth and cut his chin.
“I am coming to destroy Abner Mares,” said Gutierrez. “I am in great shape and I’m very hungry to get in the ring and prove I’m one of the best in the world. I will be world champion and reach my dreams on October 14.”