Mares: I want to beat Santa Cruz and then give Jackal title shot
The World's best featherweights will be tuning in to tomorrow's exciting showdown at the SSE Arena and that includes Abner Mares who is determined to dethrone Leo Santa Cruz and then clash with Carl Frampton.
Mares and WBA World featherweight Santa Cruz meet in a highly anticipated rematch of their 2015 duel. On that occasion Santa Cruz edged home on a majority points decision before going on to lose to, and then win back the title from Frampton.
The Jackal has his own unfinished business with Santa Cruz but Mares, who seems rejuvenated under the guidance of new coach Robert Garcia, intends to beat the Belfast man to the punch by conquering his fellow Mexican on June 9.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Mares said: "I want to beat Santa Cruz and then I'll give Frampton the first shot at the title.
"A fight between me and Frampton is huge in the States and it is a fight that I have always wanted.
"If we both win our upcoming fights then it's a natural fight before the end of the year. It would be one of the most exciting fights in the featherweight division because our styles would gel so well."
Mares has little doubt that Frampton - the biggest box office attraction in the featherweight division - will uphold his end of the bargain tomorrow night when he comes face to face with Donaire before a vociferous Belfast crowd.
"Frampton should take Donaire, I think if he has trained properly - which I'm sure he has - then he wins the fight," added Mares.
"Nonito is not done, he has that big left hand and all that experience so he knows what it takes to win at the highest level but I believe that Frampton has all the skills to beat Donaire.
"Frampton's stronger, he's faster and he's younger so overall this has come at the right moment for Frampton. I believe it's going to be an exciting fight but Frampton can get Donaire out of there."
As for his own big night with Santa Cruz, Mares is convinced that he will put the record straight having taken on board the advice of coach Garcia.
"I believe in my craft, overall I believe that I am the better fighter and I believe I'll get the win. The first fight was very close but I think Leo landed more clean punches and deserved the decision," said Mares.
"But Robert Garcia has made a big difference to me and he is going to play a big role in this rematch. He used to train Santa Cruz when he started off as a professional so he knows him inside out.
"When we first met to talk about him training me he said that he wanted to see the old Abner and I feel that is what has been shown in my recent fights. I'm using my boxing, I'm not getting into brawls the way I used to - I'm picking my punches more, I'm being smarter."