Southland-based super-bantamweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz will take the major test many have pushed him for when he meets former three-division champion Abner Mares on Aug. 29 at Staples Center.
Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 knockouts) told The Times on Thursday he and Mares (29-1-1, 15 KOs) have each verbally agreed to the bout, and a representative of the fighters’ promoter, Premier Boxing Champions, confirmed the site deal is signed.
“I can’t wait. It’s the fight everyone has wanted for me,” Santa Cruz told The Times.
The La Habra fighter has drawn criticism after taking three consecutive dubious assignments, including his unanimous-decision victory over little-known Jose Cayetano on the May 2 undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao.
An all-Southland showdown against Mares, 29, gives Santa Cruz, an impressive body puncher, the opportunity to match his skill against a fighter who won bantamweight, super-bantamweight and featherweight belts in three of his four fights from December 2011 to May 2013.
De La Hoya remains undefeated: At the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles, featherweight Diego De La Hoya improved to 11-0 with seven knockouts with a fourth-round stoppage of Tijuana’s Jose Estrella. Mexicali’s De La Hoya, 20, is the cousin of former six-division world champion Oscar De La Hoya.