The Staples Center in L.A will play host to a great night of boxing this Saturday.
In the main event Abner Mares defends his WBC super bantamweight title against Anselmo Moreno.
These two fighters are among the top four at the weight. The other two are Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux. The winner of this must be closing in on a place in the top 10 p4p rankings.
Mares is a slight favourite at the bookies which I think is fair. The Mexican warrior is a very good fighter and has a fantastic resume holding wins over the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Eric Morel and Joseph Agbeko. But, his first fight with Agbeko was shrouded in controversy as the Mexican landed continuously throughout with low blows without any deductions being given and then in round 11 the ref called a knockdown for Mares which made the fight impossible for Agbeko to win by then. Most observers would agree Agbeko was hard done by in that fight. Also, a draw to Yhonny Perez in 2010 and we see that Mares can be beaten.
Anselmo Moreno has an equally impressive record with wins notched up against Vic Darchinyan, Nehomar Cermeno, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Tomas Rojas and Mahyar Monshipour.
He is a very awkward southpaw who is constantly on the move. But, when he plants his feet and throws he does land at will. Add in the fact he has a height advantage of 2 inches and a reach advantage of nearly 4 inches and I think the bookies may have called this one wrong.
Verdict: I’m going with the upset here. Moreno makes it tricky for Mares for much of the fight and wins a close decision win.
Britain’s Nathan Cleverly will also feature in what will be just his second fight in the USA, but first as WBO light heavyweight champion. He will defend his title against Shawn Hawk who stepped in at just a week’s notice after Cleverly’s team struggled to find him a suitable opponent after several scheduled fights had fallen through.
On paper Hawk shouldn’t pose too much of a problem in theory but this is boxing and an upset is always only around the corner. His two biggest wins to date were decisions against respected American fighters Otis Griffin and Henry Buchanan but he has yet to fight an elite fighter. He has spoken about his belief that he will pull off a miracle win this weekend and he will need to be at his very best to do so. Even then, it might not be enough.
Cleverly has also yet to fight an elite fighter but he does have two big wins against undefeated opposition in Germany’s Karo Murat and fellow Briton Tony Bellew. The latter was quite controversial though with many claiming Bellew deserved the nod on the cards.
It is agreed that Cleverly has the skills and speed and his power is possibly a bit underrated. But he will need to prove all of this against top opposition if he is to be remembered in a similar way to his fellow Welshman Joe Calzaghe.
Verdict: Cleverly wins a unanimous decision on the cards with perhaps a few close rounds.
IBF bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz defends his title for the second time against Victor Zaleta. The champion will be expected to beat his opponent who has never fought at bantamweight before. On paper it looks like a one sided affair and I think that is how it will play out in the ring. Unless Santa Cruz has completely underestimated his fellow Mexican he should win this one comfortably.
Verdict: Santa Cruz to win comfortably. Decision or knockout? That’s for you to decide. He has a 55% KO ratio but his opponent has never fought at the weight. I favour the decision.
Finally, Alfredo Angulo returns to the ring for the first time since his battle with James Kirkland a year ago. He has spent much of the last year trying to remain in the USA after immigration issues. He will be fighting little known Raul Casarez. Angulo will be very likely to win this fight which looks like a gentle fight to get him back into the swing of things. I don’t know much about Casarez but I can’t see Angulo losing to anybody other than a top contender at the weight.
Verdict: Routine win for Angulo and good to see him back in the ring. Probably a knockout victory in the mid to late rounds. I’m going round 8.