Boxing

Mares stops Ponce De Leon in 9th round

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LAS VEGAS (AP)

Abner Mares moved up in weight and didn't miss a beat, stopping Daniel Ponce De Leon in the ninth round Saturday night to win a piece of the featherweight title.

Mares landed a right hand counter to drop Ponce De Leon, then swarmed all over him before referee Jay Nady moved in to stop the fight at 2:20 of the round. Mares, a former batamweight and super batamweight champion, remained unbeaten with the win.

The fight was on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero fight at the MGM Grand hotel.

Mares began controlling the fight in the second round, landing a left hook followed by a right that put Ponce De Leon up for the first time. Mares won most of the early rounds, but a low blow by Ponce De Leon in the seventh round seemed to give Ponce De Leon new energy.

The two fighters are stablemates, who fight under the same management but agreed to fight each other anyway.

''I wasn't just fighting some opponent,'' Mares said. ''He's my friend. The second time I dropped him I wanted him to stay down. I didn't want to keep hurting him.''

The two were trading punches near the corner in the ninth round when Mares landed a looping right hand that put Ponce De Leon down. He got up and began trading with Mares, who landed a series of punches before Nady stopped the bout.

''I want a rematch, the referee stopped the fight too quickly,'' Ponce De Leon said. ''I was winning rounds. He dropped me but I was very conscious.''

Mares improved to 26-0-1 with 14 knockouts with the win, while Ponce De Leon fell to 44-5. Both of the Mexican fighters weighed the class limit of 126 pounds.

In another fight, Leo Santa Cruz also made a successful move up in weight by dominating Alexander Munoz in a 122-pound bout before finally stopping him in the fifth round.

Santa Cruz remained unbeaten by putting Munoz down in the third round and battering him in the fourth before landing another flurry of punches that sent him down into the ropes in the fifth. A cornerman for Munoz got in the ring to stop the fight at 1:05 of the fifth round.

It was the first fight for Santa Cruz at 122 pounds, and his first fight since stopping Victor Zaleta in November in his hometown of Los Angeles to retain his batamweight title.

''This is what I've been training so hard for,'' Santa Cruz said. ''I want to give a good show for the fans and that's what I did.''

In another fight, J'Leon Love remained unbeaten with a split decision middleweight win over Gabriel Rosado despite being dropped by a right hand in the sixth round.

Love (16-0), of Las Vegas, won on two of the three ringside scorecards, though he took punishment throughout the fight from Rosado (21-7) of Philadelphia. The decision was loudly booed by the crowd at the MGM Grand hotel arena.

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