Santa Cruz, Mares win to set up rematch

Leo Santa Cruz defeated Chris Avalos in the eighth round in Las Vegas on Saturday night to retain his WBA featherweight belt.

Santa Cruz had too much for his former sparring partner as he wrapped up his first defence since retaking the title from Carl Frampton in January.

The champion was in control from the first bell, although Alavos’ granite chin enabled him to last until the eighth after taking a lot of good shots.

Santa Cruz had the upper hand in the first three rounds as both boxers traded punches, and Alavos was lucky to survive the fourth after taking some severe punishment.

The barrage continued in the fifth, but Alavos still managed to fight back despite soaking up some huge hits.

The pattern continued over the next two rounds, before the referee finally called a halt to proceedings after 1:32 of round eight to stop Alavos taking any more shots.

The win sets Santa Cruz up for a rematch with Abner Mares after he won a tenth round decision over Andres Gutierrez in the co-main event.

Mares won a decision 100-90, 99-91, 99-91, after it went to the judges because the fight was stopped for cuts caused by clashes of heads.

It was a dominant display by the Mexican-born fighter who will now have the chance for rematch with Santa Cruz, who took the title off him in 2015.

Across the pond in London, George Groves defeated Jamie Cox in their World Boxing Super Series quarter-final to set up a fight with Chris Eubank Jr.

WBA super-middleweight champion Groves KO’ed Cox with a huge body shot in the fourth round of their fight at Wembley Arena.

He will now face Eubank Jr, who defeated Avni Yildirim in Turkey in January.

In other boxing action, Cuban Erislandy Lara easily defeated American Terrell Gausha at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The safety-first Lara toyed with Gausha and was awarded the fight by the judges 117-110, 117-110 and 116-111 to retain his WBA (Super) and IBO light middleweight titles for a sixth time.

Also in Brooklyn, IBF Junior Middleweight World Champion Jarrett Hurd beat former champion Austin Trout via a 10th round technical knockout in the first defence of his world title.