By Derek Bonnett
On Saturday, November 10, Showtime continued to affirm the network’s commitment to boxing’s lighter weight classes by showcasing several fighters with great potential to reach the upper echelon of the pound for pound rankings. Peaking IBF bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz took on the capable Victor Zaleta in his third world title bout. In the main event, Abner Mares and Anselmo Moreno, two of boxing’s best regardless of weight class, squared off for Mares’ WBC super bantamweight title. Moreno, the WBA bantamweight champion, moved up in weight to take the bout at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA.
In what turned into a wild, often sloppy affair, Abner Mares retained his WBC 122-pound title with a unanimous decision over Anselmo Moreno. As I described in my preview for SecondsOut, Mares relied heavily on his aggression to secure the victory. From the opening bell until the tenth round, Mares stayed on Moreno’s chest and forced the Panamanian out of his typical comfort zone. The smooth stylist was caught often with powerful overhand rights and hooks, but he showed a good beard in taking the best shots Mares had to offer. Moreno hit the canvas in the fifth round after getting hurt to the body. The two fighters tangled up and Moreno was half-pushed to the canvas, but the knockdown was ruled with only mild controversy.
Mares landed the best shot of the fight in the sixth round when he rocked Moreno with a booming overhand right, but the challenger took it with pride. The remainder of the bout inched closer, but Mares built such a substantial lead over the first half of the bout that Moreno’s uphill battle was too much to overcome. The later rounds became closer and Moreno started pocketing a couple before being penalized unfairly in the eleventh round for pushing Mares’ head down. The bout was rough and Mares led with his head often, so Moreno’s reaction should not have been admonished. Moreno won the last three rounds on my SecondsOut scorecard as Mares began to fade and his accuracy diminished. Twice Mares may have been hurt to the body, but it was unclear if he was truly hurt or simply playing possum.
After twelve rounds, my SecondsOut scorecard favored Mares 7-3-2 in rounds or by a score of 115-112. The official scores favored the local fighter 116-110 twice and an outrageous 120-106. Mares raised his dossier to 25-0-1 (13) while posting the first defense of his title. Moreno dipped to 33-2-1 (12), but remains the WBA bantamweight champion.
In a high-paced dark horse candidate for Fight of the Year, Leo Santa Cruz stopped Victor Zaleta by ninth round KO in the main supporting bout. Zaleta rose from 115-pounds to meet Santa Cruz in his second defense of the IBF bantamweight title. Although Santa Cruz was pocketing all the rounds with his typical high volume attack replete with left hooks to the body and head, Zaleta fought through several bad moments to land heavy uppercuts of his own. Zaleta hit the canvas in the fourth, seventh, and ninth rounds. In each instance, the left hook to the body played a crucial part in the knockdowns, but the uppercut also took a supporting role. After the third knockdown, the referee stopped the bout at the 1:42 mark of the ninth.