FORMER three-weight world champion Abner Mares is preparing to make a statement when he fights Leo Santa Cruz at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on August 29.

Santa Cruz will be moving up to featherweight for the much anticipated clash, a weight Mares has operated at for two years.

An upset knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013 and a subsequent 11 month hiatus stunted Mares’ meteoric rise, but the 29-year-old is determined to return to the top.

“In my mind, after the loss, I left the top level of the game. I had to overcome some issues mentally, but now I’m back better than I ever have been,” he said.

“I’m going to go in there August 29 ready to prove that. I’m going to make a statement that Abner Mares is back.”

The bout pits two of the most exciting, and talented, fighters in and around the 126lb division and Mares expects it to be a tear up.

“It’s two well-prepared fighters in their prime. Expect fireworks. This is something fight fans have been asking for. I hope my fight can be considered one of the best once it’s done,” he noted.

“This is definitely the biggest fight of my career. I’m ready to fight anyone. I want Gary Russell Jr. and all the great fighters at this weight. It’s just a matter of taking care of business one by one.

“Fights get legendary after they’re done. I think that’s our job to make this fight one of the great ones. I think my job is just to go in there and give it a great fight. And the fight fans will be the judges of that.”

A focused Mares also revealed he has been pursuing a fight with the unbeaten Santa Cruz, who has won world honours in two weight classes, for some time.

“I’ve been looking forward to this fight for many years, many years fans have been excited and I’ve been wanting to fight,” he said.

“I’ve been calling out Leo this whole year, called him out on radio shows, in person. And it’s finally here. I’m really, really excited to fight.

“I know fighters say this all the time, “Oh, I can’t wait, I wish it was tomorrow.” But honest truth, I wish it was tomorrow. I am that ready and I am that focused, I cannot wait.”