Mares ready for classic bout with Santa Cruz

‘Cardiff is the front-runner for Joshua v Ruiz rematch’ – promoter Eddie Hearn

Abner Mares believes this weekend's world title bout with fellow Mexican Leo Santa Cruz will be a modern classic.

Mares (29-1-1-KO15), who lost his WBC strap to Jhonny Gonzalez via first-round knockout in August 2013, takes on his compatriot in Los Angeles with the vacant WBA Super world featherweight title on the line.

He said: "It's time. It's time to give everybody a 'Fight of the Year'. There's no doubt. I'm going to go in there and have fun.

"I think I've done enough talking. I've talked about how I'm going to beat him and I know I'm going to get it done. It's here. I'm ready to put it to work. I'm going to do what I know how to do, which is fight and give it my all.

"I'm not worried about the crowd and who they're rooting for. I'm there to make everybody a believer. It's going to be an amazing atmosphere and I can't wait.

"I've definitely faced tougher opponents than he has. I've been in against legitimate champions. I'm taking him to deep waters.

"My loss is completely forgotten. In life you have obstacles, especially in this sport. I'm over it. I'm back. This is where I want to be. When I fight guys the level of Leo Santa Cruz it brings the best out of me."

The unbeaten Santa Cruz (30-0-1-KO17) is making his second appearance at the weight having held world titles at bantamweight and super-bantamweight – but he's still confident he possesses the power to stop Mares.

The 27-year-old said: "We're going to go out with the intention of knocking him out. If we can't, we're still going to make a great fight for the fans and find a way to get the victory. I need this win for my legacy and to get to that next level. I'm here to fight the best.

"Every fighter has a weakness. When we get inside the ring we're going to find it. We have a great game plan and it's going to show on Saturday.

"I'm very motivated by keeping my 0 intact. I want to show the world that I deserve to fight the best. If I beat Abner, I can get to that next level. I'm very motivated to go out there and get the win.

"I think the crowd will be 50-50. We're both from here so it's going to be crazy. At the end of the fight it's going to be rowdy. We're excited that they're showing love and we'll give them a great fight.

"I can't wait for Saturday night to give everybody a great show. You don't want to miss it."

IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby will be at ringside and hinted earlier in the week he would be prepared to take on either or both fighters next year.

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