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Leo Santa Cruz is confident about weight, and of beating Abner Mares

Leo Santa Cruz is confident about weight, and of beating Abner Mares
Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 knockouts) will fight Abner Mares (29-1-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday at Staples Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The same ease that Leo Santa Cruz will have making weight today parallels his confidence in defeating Abner Mares on Saturday night in their Southland featherweight showdown at Staples Center.

Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 knockouts), who already has won world titles at 118 and 122 pounds, told The Times on Friday morning that he's at 125.5 pounds before stepping on the scale this afternoon for the 126-pound bout.

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"I feel great, feel strong; I'm ready," Santa Cruz said. "They say fights are won in the gym, and I feel I've done that with my coaching, my strength and conditioning and my sparring."

Mares (29-1-1, 15 knockouts), a former three-division world champion, is expected to possess a weight advantage on fight night, which Santa Cruz said could go as many as eight pounds.

"Leo's not going to pick him and carry him, so the weight's not that big of an issue," said Santa Cruz's father and trainer, Jose Santa Cruz. "We'll feel him out. If he feels really strong, we'll box him and beat him with intelligence.

"But I do feel it'll be over before that."

Jose Santa Cruz said he places that prediction on his opinion that Mares slows in the second half of fights. Mares is also less than two years removed from a vicious first-round knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez that some believe has left him too cautious.

"After six rounds, he's not the same," Jose Santa Cruz said. "He fights open wide, so Leo has a real good chance of coming inside and putting his hands on him.

"Abner's a good fighter and I hope he prepared well, but we're prepared to win the fight how we usually win fights. The work we put in will show. ... Saturday night is just a showcase of that."

Tickets remain for the bout, which will be televised by ESPN, with fight officials expecting a near-capacity crowd that could reach 14,000 by the opening bell.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire

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