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Mares defends title, defeats Moreno

Ringside by Felipe Leon and Rocco Morales
Photos by “Big” Joe Miranda

In front of a little over six thousand zealous boxing fans, WBC super bantamweight champion Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs) remained undefeated and proved to be unstoppable in defending his title for the against valiant challenger Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs) of Panama, at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

The Showtime-televised card, promoted by Golden Boy, also showcased IBF bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz and the return of super welterweight contender Alfredo "Perro" Angulo.

After splitting the first four rounds, Mares began to pull away in the fifth as followed his game plan and just threw punches with seemingly no rhyme or reason, in hopes of them landing them anywhere on the always retreading Moreno. Near the end of the round, Mares caught up with the Panamanian close to the ropes and landed a series of punches, including a straight right that sent Moreno down to the canvas. Down for the first time in his career, the clearly dazed Moreno reached his feet just as the bell signaled the end of the round.

Mares kept scoring with big looping rights while the southpaw Moreno had luck with the straight left landing multiple times. Moreno at his best was a skilled bullfighter, with his fists as his cape, as he controlled the action with flawless foot work, leading Mares almost by the nose around the ring. At times, Mares seemed frustrated by Moreno's always backing up and refusing to engage, but he never gave up and kept plugging forward, catching Moreno on the arms, body and head.

The bout was not void of dirty tactics from either figher. Mares blatantly struck Moreno on the back after a clinch while complaining of a head butt nobody saw at the end of the seventh. In the 11th, the referee deducted a point from Moreno for pushing Mares' head down, after several warnings.

In a sign of machismo, Mores baited Moreno in the eighth to come to him while his back was against a corner. Mares looked to force the lanky southpaw to make a mistake in which to capitalize on, but Moreno was able to stay at a safe distance and score with straight punches.

By the ninth, Moreno looked tired and Mares took advantage of it by intensifying the pressure. Mares began to catch him more often. Moreno still had flashes of brilliance as late as the tenth, still scoring from the outside and at times dictating the pace of the action but his punches weren't making any apparent effects on Mares.

In the last round, with nothing much to do for the win, Moreno looked to survive and danced even more. Mares, looking to give the crowd an exciting finish, literally ran after Moreno as "Chemito" back pedaled to survive.

At the end, sane judges David Sutherland and Marty Denkin saw it 116-110 while James Jen Kin scored it a criminally insane 120-106. Fightnews had it 115-111 for Mares.

With the win Mares makes a strong a argument to be named the best super bantamweight on the planet but as he sees it, there is one man still to beat.

"The only fight I want to talk about is Nonito Donaire," Mares quickly answered when asked to consider his plans for 2013. "That fight needs to be made for the sake of boxing." - Felipe Leon

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Santa Cruz stops Zaleta

Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13KO) wore down former super flyweight title challenger, Victor Zaleta (20-3-1, 10KO) and dealt him the first knockout of his career. The record of Santa Cruz is easily misleading as he began his career with just two stoppage wins in his first 11 fights. Since then, 10 of his next 11 opponents were unable to survive until the final bell.

Santa Cruz gladly exchanged with the smaller Zaleta, who was making his first foray into the bantamweight division, knocking him down at the end of the fourth round with a hard left hook. Zaleta, to his credit, not only got up from the knockdown but, rather than going into survival mode, continued to engage the champion.

In the fourth, Santa Cruz resembled a bantamweight version of Mike Tyson when he landed a beautiful, devastating left hook to the body and a left uppercut to the head that immediately dropped Zaleta, who somehow managed to get up and fight on.

In the fifth round, Santa Cruz continued to press the action, but fought intelligently rather than going for the knockout. Finally, in the ninth round, Santa Cruz landed his best punch of the night, a crushing right cross counter to the middle of Zaleta's face, that dropped him hard and led to referee Ray Corona immediately calling an end to the bout.

Time of the stoppage was 1:42 of the 9th round. With the victory, Santa Cruz appears ready for any and all comers in the bantamweight division, solidifying his legitimacy as a world champion in his second defense of the title he won just five months ago. – Rocco Morales

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Angulo crushes Cazares

Alfredo Angulo (21-2, 18KO) made his ring return, following a forced on- year layoff, a wildly successful one with a 0:56 knockout of Raul Cazares (19-3, 9KO). Angulo had a very rough 53 week stretch, beginning with a knockout loss to James Kirkland last November followed by seven-month lockdown in a federal immigration detention center in El Centro, CA.

The formerly shaved head Angulo sported a new look into the ring for this fight with longer Antonio Margarito-like hair and a full beard, making him hardly recognizable. What was recognizable, however, was Angulo's power. Unfortunately for Cazares, despite just 9 knockouts in his previous 21 fights, he chose to engage in a firefight with Angulo and found himself on the losing end as the pair exchanged left hooks.

Angulo's left hook got there first and right on the chin. Referee Jose Cobian did not have to bother with a count as Cazares was laid out and not getting up. With the victory, Angulo is immediately a player again in the talented junior middleweight division and hopes to add something new to his game by adding new trainer, Virgil Hunter, to his stable. - Rocco Morales

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"Relentless" Orozco Stops Escobar

San Diego, CA's, by way of Garden City, Kansas, light welterweight Antonio "Relentless" Orozco (16-0, 10KOs) took a step forward in his growing career as he only needed six rounds of a scheduled eight to stop tough customer Danny Escobar (8-2, 5KOs) of Riverside, CA.

Early in the first Escobar was out to prove that he was perhaps a little tougher than Orozco's previous opponents as he caught Antonio with a well placed right that caught Orozco's attention. Orozco attacked the body and doubled the left hook there with one to the chin that found its home early on. Escobar was able to stay right there with Orozco and even seemed to frustrate the twenty-five year old San Diegan mid way through the bout as he forced the action.

All seemed even by the fifth as both fighters exchanged heavy leather in the middle of the ring but in the sixth after trading left hooks, Orozco picked up the pace and scored hurting Escobar with a left hook. Always the finisher, Orozco went after his prey and scored with a series of punches that eventually stop Escobar for the first time in his career. Official time was 2:06 of the sixth round. - Felipe Leon

Cleverly Makes Splash in U.S. Debut

Welsh WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12KOs) looked impressive in his first fight across the pond when he stopped the overmatched but game Shawn Hawk (23-3-1, 17KOs) in eight rounds, to defend his strap for the fourth time.

Cleverly wasted no time as he established his jab early, firing it often to establish his distance. Hawk was not afraid to mix it up and scored heavily with power punches to the body. Hawk moved forward with a high guard but the much taller and longer Cleverly had no trouble scoring hooks and upper cuts around and under Hawk's defense.

Hawk began scoring in the third, mainly with a stern right hand that caught Cleverly's attention. Instead of perhaps making the Welsh think twice , he only stepped up his attack and land five to six punch combinations with no response from Hawk but a lazy jab.

Despite Hawk scoring a little bit more by the fifth including with awkward angle hooks, Cleverly looked confident as he mimicked another well-known Welsh man, Joe Calgazhe, attacking with his hands down and throwing his punches from the waist. Despite winning every minute of every round, Cleverly seemed to have trouble putting away the tough Hawk, a Native American from the Sioux Nation, who kept putting in the work to Cleverly's body.

Determined to end it quickly, Cleverly put together a barrage of punches in the seventh that finally beat down Hawk to the canvas. Looking like it was over, Hawk waited until the count of nine by referee Tony Crebs to reach his feet. Hawk survived the round but only to get the same dose in the eighth, going down from a left hook to the body followed with a right hook to the chin. The tough as nails Hawk beat the count again but two hooks later, Crebs had seen enough and stopped the bout at the 1:53 mark of the round.- Felipe Leon

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Torres-Reyes Ends in Draw

After a four round bantamweight brawl, hard hitting Midland, Texas' Isaac Torres (5-0-1, 4KOs) walked away with a majority draw after going to town with local David Reyes (2-2-1) of Montebello, CA. Both fighters had their moments with Torres being the more efficient with his punches while Reyes the busier. After four rounds, one judge saw it 39-37 for Torres while the other two scored it an even 38-38. - Felipe Leon

Pearson Pulverizes Marts

Those who blinked missed the fight as 21 year old middleweight Chris Pearson (6-0, 5KO) wasted no time in demolishing Jeremy Marts (8-13, 6KO), flooring him with a left hook for the count at just 0:44 of the first round. The 36 year old Marts would be wise to consider it a career given his 44 second destruction in what not only the 13th loss of his career but also the 8th knockout loss of his career.- Rocco Morales

Loeza Upsets Wohlman

In a mild upset, Alonso Loeza (3-7-1, 3 KOs), scored a fourth round knockout victory over previously unbeaten local favorite Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman (4-1-1, 1KO). Loeza, the loser of five of his previous six bouts, got off to a slow start and ate a few hard uppercuts in the opening round from Wohlman. Wohlman, however, appeared to already be tiring in the second round and started getting hit regularly by clubbing right hands by Loeza. Loeza dropped Wohlman hard late in the third round and Wohlman barely beat the count and was saved by the bell. After getting pounded from the onset of the fourth round, referee Thomas Taylor saved Wohlman from further punishment and called an end to the bout at 0:17 of the fourth round. - Rocco Morales

Easter Comes Early

Cincinnati, Ohio's Robert Easter (1-0, 1KO) made his first dance a good one when he stopped the over matched Eddie Corona (0-2) with a stern left hook in the second round. Although Corona beat the count, the referee has seen enough and waived off the action. Official time was 2:39. - Felipe Leon

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Bonus photos

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2011 by Fightnews.com.