Report & photos: Rocco Morales
“This is the single greatest moment of my life” said newly crowned WBC featherweight champion, Jhonny Gonzalez (55-8, 47KO) after his shocking first round knockout over the heavily favored three division champion Abner Mares (26-1-1, 14KO). With the victory, Gonzalez was able to win back the very belt that he lost by way of technical decision last September to Daniel Ponce De Leon.
After two wins over softer competition earlier this year, Gonzales earned the title shot against Ponce De Leon conqueror, Abner Mares, who was coming off a career best performance against Ponce De Leon just three and a half months ago. With Mares seemingly peaking and Gonzales seemingly at the end of his career, few, if any, gave Gonzalez much chance to make it to the final bell, yet less to win the fight by way of first round knockout.
According to Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaeffer, “19 boxing experts were asked about their opinion of Mares vs. Gonzalez and all 19 picked Abner Mares. That’s why we love boxing because you never know what is going to happen.”
Considering that two of the times he lost a world title were to Israel Vasquez in 2006 and Gerry Penalosa in 2007, two fighters who have long since exited the sport, it is easy to see how Gonzalez was reportedly a 10 to 1 or greater underdog against Mares.
Gonzalez, however, continued to believe in himself when few others did. “At the press conference this week, I saw something in Mares that showed me that he was worried and when I saw that I felt like I already won the first round.”
“I was trained to go twelve rounds and I didn’t see it going this way but the way he fell from the first knock down, I knew it was over, and I just had to do my job and finish him.”
Gonzalez said he received tremendous motivation from a talked about showdown between Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz that was being discussed leading up to this fight. “What I didn’t like was that the promoter and the media was already talking about a fight before the result even came out from this fight and that’s why you should never make plans” said Gonzales.
When asked if he would consider giving Mares a rematch, Gonzalez responded “Mares is a great champion and he deserves a rematch.” Mares may need some time before he is physically or mentally ready for such rematch but there is a rematch clause confirmed Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker, Eric Gomez.
Dethroned former champion, Abner Mares, showed plenty of class at the post fight press conference and was humble in defeat.
“I hope you guys enjoyed half a round or whoever long it lasted. Johnny was the better fighter today, he beat me, he knocked me out and I have nothing but respect for him” said Mares.
“I didn’t feel the punch. It was just one of those shots that ‘boom’ you’re down. The ref asked me if I wanted to continue and I said ‘yeah’. The ref asked me if I wanted to continue and I said ‘yeah’, then the ref said ‘No, you’re done’ and I said ‘okay’, Mares said laughing as he recounted the exchange.
“I wasn’t hurt or at least in my own mind I wasn’t hurt but my legs weren’t there,” said Mares. “I have to keep working hard in the gym and not only to be a better fighter but to be a better person.”
When asked if he wanted a rematch, “I don’t care, I’ll fight him, I’ll fight Leo Santa Cruz, I’ll fight anyone but the most important thing is spending time with my family and I think I deserve a vacation now” concluded Mares.
In semi-main event action, newly crowned WBC Super Bantamweight champion, Leo Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 14KO) showed no respect to Victor Terrazas (37-3-1, 21KO) who was making the first title defense of the championship he won when he and Cristian Mijares met for the vacant belt formerly held by Abner Mares. Santa Cruz just overwhelmed the former champion and Terrazas had no answer to keep Santa Cruz off him other than to finally take a knee on the second knockdown of the third round and look pathetic enough so that the referee called an end to the bout. Terrazas gave it his all for the short time the fight lasted but was just no match for the fighter who lived up to his nickname “Terremoto”, Earthquake in English.
The happy go lucky Santa Cruz was all smiles at the press conference, feeling very comfortable in the venue where he was now won each the since vacated IBF Bantamweight belt and now the WBC Bantamweight belt.
“It was my dream since I was small and started boxing at 8 years old to win the WBC belt and I’m very happy and excited to win the belt here in Southern California” said Santa Cruz.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this easy and that the fight may go the distance but when I saw I could hurt him I decided to go after him and end the fight early.” “I saw his eye puffing up and went after the eye to try to cut him to end the fight” said Santa Cruz. Fortunately for Terrazas, if there is any silver lining at all, the fight was stopped before Santa Cruz could cut him to add further insult to injury.
When asked if he’d like to fight newly crowned WBC featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzales, Santa Cruz said “I’m willing to fight anybody. I want to fight this year again and defend the title a couple times.”
November 02nd or November 09th were mentioned by Golden Boy CEO, Richard Schaeffer, as potential dates for Santa Cruz’ next fight and title defense.
It was an action packed night that included ten bouts and two world championship bouts, made all the more exciting by the crushing first round upset knockout in the main event, in front of an energetic crowd of 7,686 fight fans at the open air Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA.