The sun glared mercilessly and so did Abner Mares, the withering L.A. heat countered by an ice-cold stare.
As Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz faced off at the end of their weigh–in outside Staples Center on Friday afternoon, it was Mares who refused to break eye contact, staring at his opponent with a look that could have frozen a jug of Prestone.
He seemed downright agitated, a man with something to prove glowering at the smiling face that he’s looking to prove it upon.
Santa Cruz, per usual, soon broke into a grin, appearing as loose as Mares’ fists were clenched tight.
Both made weight for their 126-pound clash: Santa Cruz came in 124.8 pounds, while Mares was 125.2. In the co-main event, Hugo Ruiz weighed in 121.4 pounds and Julio Ceja was 121 pounds for their 122-pound title fight.
The lively crowd, some of whom came clad in sombreros, waved Mexican flags and broke into festive chants for each fighter—with a particularly vocal circle of Santa Cruz supporters quickly countered by chirping Mares fans.
Steps away were bronze statues of various L.A sports greats: a sky-hooking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a surging Magic Johnson, a beaming Wayne Gretzky.
On Saturday night, these two local fighters will seek to join them, and cast shadows of their own on these venerated sports grounds.
The action gets going on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
For full coverage of Santa Cruz vs Mares, visit our fight page.