Although Leo Santa Cruz had already beaten Abner Mares for the WBA featherweight world title in the past, Santa Cruz believes Mares is a better fighter today than in 2015 when Santa Cruz first beat Mares.
In a conference call to talk about the June 9 Santa, Santa Cruz believes Mares' improvement can be attributed to trainer Robert Garcia, who started training Mares after their 2015 fight. Since then, the partnership has been a successful one, with Mares picking up the WBA "regular" featherweight title in his next fight, netting Mares his second world title as a featherweight.
"He looks good. He fights differently. He has Robert Garcia as his trainer. Robert Garcia is a great trainer; very smart and driven. He knows how to send a fighter to fight. I have seen him and you could see in his training that he is working really hard and everything. But we like that. We like that because he's going to come in his best and we're going to give a better fight," Santa Cruz said.
Garcia, a former world champion in his own right, has been long considered one of the top boxing trainers in the world today. He has trained with the likes of Mikey Garcia, Nonito Donaire, Jesus Cuellar, Victor Ortiz and many more top boxers in the past decade.
Since the majority decision loss to Santa Cruz in 2015, Mares got wins over former world champion Jesus Cuellar and Andres Gutierrez. Mares will get a shot to avenge his loss to Santa Cruz on June 9 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing telecast.