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Mares vs Moreno: Leo Santa Cruz wants tonight's main event winner next

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Leo Santa Cruz says he's ready to move up in weight to 122 pounds if he can land one of the big name fighters there, and his eyes are on tonight's Mares vs Moreno fight.

Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

Leo Santa Cruz, who has emerged this year as a top bantamweight and a world titleholder, says he's got his eyes on tonight's Abner Mares vs Anselmo Moreno fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and is hoping to fight the winner.

Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KO) will defend his IBF bantamweight title against Victor Zaleta on the undercard, hoping to close out his 2012 campaign with a fourth win, and what would be his third on Showtime airwaves. The 24-year-old punch output machine says he's not having trouble making the 118-pound limit, but wants to move up to fight the bigger names:

“Right now at 118, there are still some good fighters but the [fighters] that are better and more up there is guys like Nonito, Anselmo and bigger names like Mares. So that’s why we would want to move up in weight to fight the best because you have to beat the best to be the best and that’s what I want to do."

The rising young star certainly hasn't shown any fear so far, moving up in class this year to knock off veterans Alejandro Hernandez, Vusi Malinga, and Eric Morel with little trouble. He's heavily favored tonight against Zaleta, and while a jump into the Mares or Moreno class would be a big leap indeed, it's not far off at all from what Mares did in 2010, when he went from fighting gatekeepers to world champion Yonnhy Perez, starting a run of tough fights that hasn't let up.

BLH will have live coverage of all of tonight's fights.