Pitbull Cruz, Andy Ruiz Jr, Santa Cruz vs Mares 3 on Crawford undercard


Terence “Bud” Crawford is set to move up to 154 lbs to face WBA titleholder Israil Madrimov on Saturday, Aug. 3, at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.

Today, Salvador Rodriguez of ESPN reports that there are three fights set or near set for the pay-per-view undercard:

  • Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz vs Jose “Rayo” Valenzuela
  • Andy Ruiz Jr vs Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller
  • Leo Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares 3

Cruz (26-2-1, 18 KO) just won the WBA super lightweight title by destroying — unless you are judge Chris Flores — Rolly Romero on Mar. 30. Valenzuela (13-2, 9 KO) is coming off of a knockout win over Chris Colbert in their rematch last December, following a controversial loss to Colbert in Mar. 2023.

The 24-year-old Valenzuela has been competing as a lightweight, but Cruz, 25, is really a lightweight, too.

Ruiz (35-2, 22 KO) hasn’t fought since his Sept. 2022 win over Luis Ortiz, and has fought just two times since his embarrassing rematch performance in defeat to Anthony Joshua at the end of 2019. Now 34, Ruiz is still in what should be his prime as a heavyweight contender, and if he’s been watching the money flying around in that division with Saudi backing of late, he really should want to get back in the mix.

The 35-year-old Miller (26-1-1, 22 KO) is coming off of his first pro loss, stopped in the 10th round by Daniel Dubois last December in Riyadh. Neither he nor Ruiz are known for their discipline or dedication, and Miller was arrested in early January in Florida. Rodriguez notes that this fight has yet to be confirmed, but it’s close enough to reality that he’s including it.

The last fight will raise some eyebrows. Santa Cruz and Mares are 35 and 38, respectively, and have not been active. Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KO) hasn’t fought since early 2022, and the last time he faced a serious opponent was his Oct. 2020 knockout loss to Gervonta “Tank” Davis. Mares (31-3-2, 15 KO) has fought just once since his rematch loss to Santa Cruz in 2018, and that was a 2022 draw with Miguel Flores.

Mares has notably had injury issues with his eye that forced him to take leave from the ring, and he’s been a commentator for PBC broadcasts for years now, making the switch to the Prime Video team after Showtime closed up shop.

The last time we saw a rivalry take a step too far involving a guy who had eye injury problems, it was Israel Vazquez vs Rafael Marquez IV in 2010, which nobody remembers fondly and most people would rather just forget. And this is no Vazquez-Marquez rivalry, anyway; Santa Cruz is 2-0 against Mares and the fights weren’t exactly instant classics like Vazquez-Marquez, either.

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