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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Title doubleheader close for Aug. 24

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

A world title doubleheader headlined by featherweight titlist Abner Mares defending against former titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez is close to being finalized for Aug. 24, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Tuesday night.

The opening fight of the Showtime-televised card from the StubHub Center (formerly the Home Depot Center) in Carson, Calif., will feature junior featherweight titleholder Victor Terrazas in a mandatory defense against Leo Santa Cruz, a former bantamweight titleholder.

Schaefer said he is working out the final details for Mares-Gonzalez and also needed to go over a few things with Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza before the card is official. However, the date and venue are locked in and Terrazas-Santa Cruz is set as Golden Boy won the right to promote the fight at a purse bid on May 31.

"There are no particular outstanding issues with Mares and Gonzalez. Both fighters want to fight and I'm just trying to finalize everything. It's a helluva fight," Schaefer said. "I expect it to be done in the next few days. I just need to sit down with Stephen and get it all finalized, but Showtime loves the card. I love the card. I think fight fans will love the card."

On June 8, Schaefer promoted a card at the StubHub Center headlined by the welterweight brawl between Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez. It sold out with a record boxing crowd of 8,629 and Schaefer said he expects to do the same for this card, which features four of Mexico's top fighters, all of whom have a penchant for being in action fights.

"This is the perfect sport for the show," Schaefer said. "It's exactly these kind of events which are going to attract a crowd. You have four exciting Mexican fighters and the crowd will get what it expects -- exciting fights, so I think we're going to have another sellout, and we will do what we did (on June 8), which is to price the tickets very attractively."

The 27-year-old Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs), a former bantamweight and junior featherweight titleholder, vacated his 122-pound title and moved up to the 126-pound featherweight division May 4 and stopped Daniel Ponce De Leon in the ninth round to win a world title in a third weight class on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

For his first defense, Mares will be facing Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs), 31, who lost his featherweight title via eighth-round technical decision -- Gonzalez was badly cut by an accidental head butt and unable to continue -- to Ponce De Leon last September.

Although the deal is not finalized, Frank Espinoza, who manages Mares, told ESPN.com that it is the fight they want.

"Jhonny Gonzalez is a former world champion and a seasoned fighter," Espinoza said. "We're still negotiating the fight, so it's not a done deal yet, but Abner will fight anybody. Of course, we have to work out certain things but we're on board with fighting Jhonny Gonzalez. It's a tough fight but every fight is a tough fight when you're at this level."

Gonzalez, also a former bantamweight titleholder, has won two fights in a row since losing to Ponce De Leon and he remains a fierce puncher.

"This is still a new weight class for Abner and Jhonny has been a featherweight for awhile," Schaefer said. "There will be Mexican pride at stake. I expect a really exciting battle because you know when you see a Jhonny Gonzalez fight that it won't be boring and the same can be said and more of Abner Mares, who is on most pound-for-pound lists as well as being one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport."

Golden Boy, which promotes Santa Cruz, won the purse bid for his mandatory shot at Terrazas with a bid of $526,000, which beat the only other offer of $451,000 by Fernando Beltran's Zanfer Promotions, which handles Terrazas. Under the terms of the purse bid, Terrazas, as the titleholder, is entitled to 70 percent of the winning bid ($368,200) and Santa Cruz is entitled to the remaining 25 percent ($157,800).

Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KOs), 30, of Mexico, won a vacant 122-pound world title on April 20 in Mexico City, scoring a split decision against countryman Cristian Mijares, the former junior bantamweight champion.

Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs), 24, who lives in Los Angeles, vacated his bantamweight belt and made his junior featherweight debut on the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard last month by knocking out former two-time junior bantamweight titlist Alexander Munoz of Venezuela in the fifth round.

"Terrazas beat a good fighter to win a world title and with Leo you have one of the highest volume punchers in the sport, who has developed a fan following and a crowd pleasing style," Schaefer said. "He is going to bring the fans to their feet."