Photo Credit: Abel Madrid
LOS ANGELES — Former world champion Abner Mares opened up his Del Mares gym yesterday to give media a first-hand look of his preparations for the August 29 fight against Leo Santa Cruz.
Mares sees the long-awaited bout as a stepping stone to a shot against WBC featherweight titlist and fellow PBC fighter Gary Russell Jr.
“It’s great to be here at my gym on my home turf,” said Mares. “I started the hashtag #ThisIsMyTown because L.A. is my town. Leo can say whatever he wants but I’m at home and ready to put on a show.
This is definitely the biggest fight of my career. I’m ready to fight anyone. I want Gary Russell Jr. and all the great fighters at this weight. It’s just a matter of taking care of business one by one.”
Mares will come into the Santa Cruz fight nearly 2 years to the day he suffered his first and only defeat — an embarrassing first round knockout at the hands of Jhonny Gonzalez. The journey back to the elite level has been arduous, but one Mares feels has made him a better fighter.
“In my mind, after the loss, I left the top level of the game. I had to overcome some issues mentally, but now I’m back better than I ever have been. I’m going to go in there August 29ready to prove that. I’m going to make a statement that Abner Mares is back.”
Mares vs. Santa Cruz will air on ESPN.