Posts Tagged ‘Leo Santa Cruz’


LAS VEGAS — Leo Santa Cruz knew he couldn’t beat Carl Frampton by brawling, so he did what all great fighters do by adjusting his game plan. The pressure fighter morphed to a boxer-puncher to take a majority decision and regain the WBA featherweight title.

From round one, the feel of the fight had a pronounced difference from their first encounter last July. The taller Santa Cruz worked behind his jab and forced Frampton to become the aggressor and takes risks to get inside. When Frampton succeeded, the challenger took a step back and scored with short flurries inside, forcing Frampton back outside to reset.


This pattern continued until the sixth round when¬†Frampton began to wear down Santa Cruz with hard body shots and mauling. The punishment and pace slowed Santa Cruz’s jab, giving Frampton more opportunities to close the scoring gap in the seventh and eighth stanzas.

In the ninth, Santa Cruz’s jab and high activity returned. Frampton couldn’t equal the challenger’s punch output, and found himself being out-landed¬†3-1 in exchanges.

Despite the masterful game plan, Frampton’s success in the mid rounds and desperation push in the 12th made for close scorecards. Judge Burt Clements had it a draw, 114-114. He was overruled by Dave Moretti and Glenn Feldman, who both had it 115-113 for Santa Cruz.

The most impressive moment came afterward from Santa Cruz, who stated in his post-fight interview that he wants another fight to make a trilogy. You heard that right. No mention of needing to talk with his manager or promoter. Santa Cruz lauded Frampton for giving him a rematch, and feel he’s obligated to return the favor.

I’m sure not a single boxing fan will have an objection.


Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz

Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

LAS VEGAS — WBA featherweight champion Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz had no issues making weight this afternoon for their much-anticipated rematch Saturday night at the MGM Grand.

Both fighters weighed in below the featherweight limit at 125.

PREDICTION: At the lower weights, Santa Cruz was able to wear guys down and eventually overwhelm them with his size, punch output and pressure. But at 126, the size advantage isn’t as pronounced, allowing a skilled pugilist like Frampton to keep Santa Cruz at bay with sharp counters. Santa Cruz doesn’t have the technique to outbox Frampton nor can he bulldoze him without getting rocked (like early in the first bout).

In other words, there isn’t much room for improvement I can see from Santa Cruz. Unless Frampton has regressed (not likely), I expect him to get another clear decision.

Dejan Zlaticanin and Mikey Garcia

GARCIA: 134.5


PREDICTION: A lot of people are worried for Garcia and with good reason. Zlaticanin is a southpaw pressure fighter that excels in punishing inside work. His right hand has serious pop but it’s usually the looping left hook that puts guys down. In an interview I’ll be posting tomorrow, Garcia explained he’s worked extensively on his right-hand counters. Short, compact punches (particularly the uppercut), will do the most damage. However, it remains to be seen how effective Garcia’s power will be against a full-fledged lightweight. After getting rocked and put in some trouble early on, I see Garcia adjusting to Zlaticanin’s rhythm and outboxing him to a tough unanimous decision.


David Benavidez and Sherali Mamajonov



Opening the card is the undefeated David Benavidez taking on Sherali Mamadjanov in a super middleweight bout.

David Benavidez and Sherali Mamajonov



Leo Santa Cruz_Open Workout_008

Photo Credit: Scott Hirano/Showtime

ANAHEIM, CA — WBA featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz met the media today as he prepares for his first title defense against veteran Kiko Martinez. Santa Cruz gave his thoughts on his opponent, a winner in Frampton vs. Quigg, and his new venture into boxing promotion.

Santa Cruz vs. Martinez will air on Showtime February 27.


I always train to make a statement. I want to go out there and show everyone that I’m really good and I deserve to be considered one of the best.
I fight for my family. Since I was small, this is what I’ve wanted to do to help my family. I wanted to work hard and give my family a better future.
Martinez is a strong fighter who comes forward and always puts pressure on you. He never backs down and always comes to fight. That’s what we like about this matchup — it makes for a more intense fight.
We’re going to give the fans an entertaining show. The fans are the ones who are going to win at the end of the night.¬†I’m going to go out there and try to knock him out by the end of the third round.¬†
I think he’s going to be the aggressor because he’s shorter and has to fight that way. But I’m going to go forward and be the aggressor too. If that’s not working, I’ll box him. We’re going to do what we need to do to win the fight.
I see Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg as a 50-50 fight. It’s a tough fight for both of them. I think whoever catches the other guy first will get the victory. They both can hit and they both have great skills. It could go either way.
It’s a very interesting fight between Frampton and Quigg. They’ve both been possible opponents for me and I hope that I do well that night and face the winner of that fight. I don’t care who it is, I want to fight them.
I’m willing to fight whoever. I want the winner of Frampton-Quigg. If not then Lee Selby, Gary Russell Jr., Jesus Cuellar or anyone in the division. Hopefully next it will be one of those fighters.
My fighting style is to always go forward and throw a lot of punches. I just want to entertain the fans. I fight for them and I try to send them home happy. I want to go in there and fight in a war.
I’m going to fight all of the top guys. I’m still young and I know if I keep working hard and taking care of the guy in front of me, I’ll get all of those fights.
We’re working on our distance and learning new things every day in camp. I don’t want to change too much, since I’m undefeated. I’m going to be prepared mentally and physically to get the win.
We’re working hard all the time. We know what we have to do in the ring to win the fight. My last fight our strategy was to brawl but we adjusted it and moved more and we were able to get the victory.
On his recent foray into boxing promotion: “Being a promoter is difficult. It’s very hard. You’re always busy, so right now I’m focused on my boxing career. I’m letting my brothers and my family take care of it now. I’m not there 100 percent yet but I like to give my opinion. It’s something I’d like to do after I retire.


Photo Credit: Suzanne Theresa/Premier Boxing Champions

LOS ANGELES — Leo Santa Cruz answered his critics in impressive fashion last night with a signature win over a determined Abner Mares. A majority decision (117-111 twice, 114114) in name only, Santa Cruz took over in the middle rounds and never looked back. And in doing so, Santa Cruz showed a¬†previously overlooked trait — the ability to adjust a game plan and outsmart his opponent.

EARLY MAKINGS OF A CLASSIC: From the second the opening bell sounded, Mares was in Santa Cruz’s chest firing off blistering combos to the body and head. Santa Cruz, who’s used to being the aggressor, seemed surprised and unprepared for this strategy. His own offense was being smothered by clinches and rough-housing, and it appeared Mares was utilizing the strategy Shane Mosley had executed in the same building against Antonio Mosley six years earlier.

Unfortunately for Mares, his smaller frame couldn’t maintain¬†the mauling and grueling pace. By the fifth, both fighters were bleeding from accidental butts, but Santa Cruz was the one gradually taking over as Mare’s aggression morphed¬†to backfoot movement and labored counter-punching attempts.

HOW TO COMBINE VOLUME PUNCHING AND¬†COUNTERPUNCHING: Mares’ inside combinations and lead power shots were his early successes, but his lack of creativity became an Achilles Heel over the bout’s second half. Santa Cruz was supposed to be the one-dimensional ¬†slugger, but he was the fighter who adjusted his game by relying on his reach to time Mares’ telegraphed overhand rights.

By taking a step¬†backward, Mares was left off-balance and in no-man’s land, where Santa Cruz safely clipped him with counter straight rights and hooks. And when Mares did make it inside, his mauling was nullified by Santa Cruz taking a quick side-step that put Mares out of position and susceptible to uppercuts and short hooks.

The adjustments resulted in Santa Cruz looking like the better technician while still maintaining a grueling pace that resulted in 1057 punches thrown.

THE DOMINANCE: I gave a lot a credit to Mares for his early body punching and had him up 4-2 after six. However, the last round Mares won on my card was the fifth, and Santa Cruz just overwhelmed him down the stretch. The sweep of rounds 6-12 gave Santa Cruz a 116-112 victory on my card.

“I stayed outside with the jab,” said Santa Cruz, who landed 71 jabs to Mares’s 7. “We were able to take control.
My dad told me that we could beat him by boxing. We want to be aggressive but tonight we had to box him too and that’s how we got it done.”

NEXT ORDER OF BUSINESS: Santa Cruz is now the “super world” WBA featherweight champion and has options. Realistic in-house matchups are a Mares rematch, Julio Ceja (who scored a comeback KO in the co-feature), a unification with WBC titlist Gary Russell Jr., or Carl Frampton, who made his PBC debut last month. I’d prefer Frampton first,¬†as style-wise we’d get an all-action bout with international flair. And Frampton is already on record stating he wants the fight.



JULIO CEJA TKO5 HUGO RUIZ: Julio Ceja peeled himself on the canvas to score a dramatic 5th round TKO over Hugo Ruiz. Ceja struggled with Hugo’s¬†size and was dropped hard by a counter left hook in the third. After being saved by the bell, Ceja regrouped and scored his own knockdown off a left hook. But Ceja would not let his man recover and secured¬†the stoppage with a barrage of power shots on the ropes.

ALEJANDRO LUNA TKO4 SERGIO LOPEZ: Prospect Luna kept his undefeated record (19-0, 14 KOs) by stalking and administering a brutal ending sequence of hooks to force a referee stoppage.

ALFREDO ANGULO RTD5 HECTOR MUNOZ: Alfredo Angulo continued his quiet comeback with an easy corner stoppage win. Munoz declined to come out for the sixth after being bloodied and floored in the previous round.


Photo Credit: Abel Madrid

LOS ANGELES — Former world champion Abner Mares opened up his Del Mares gym yesterday to give media a first-hand look of his preparations for the August 29 fight against Leo Santa Cruz.

Mares sees the long-awaited bout as a stepping stone to a shot against WBC featherweight titlist and fellow PBC fighter Gary Russell Jr.

“It’s great to be here at my gym on my home turf,” said¬†Mares.¬†“I started the hashtag #ThisIsMyTown because L.A. is my town. Leo can say whatever he wants but I’m at home and ready to put on a show.

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.”

Mares will come into the Santa Cruz fight nearly 2 years to the day he suffered his first and only defeat — an embarrassing first round knockout at the hands of Jhonny Gonzalez. The journey back to the elite level has been arduous, but one Mares feels has made him a better fighter.

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

Mares vs. Santa Cruz will air on ESPN.


LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather silenced any doubt about who is this generation’s greatest fighter with a conclusive unanimous decision win over Manny Pacquiao tonight at the MGM Grand.

Pacquiao’s usual aggression was non-existent as the Filipino icon struggled to get past Mayweather’s jab and establish his fast-paced offense. Pacquiao’s best moment came in round 4 when he stunned Mayweather with a counter left. As Mayweather covered up on the ropes, Pacquiao rained down power shots on Mayweather’s guard. Pacquiao had isolated moments in the rounds 6, 9 and 10 when he landed to the body, but his offense was tempered from check hooks and Mayweather’s control of distance.

Mayweather reduced Pacquiao to single digits connects in 9 of the 12 rounds. The scorecards reflected Maywether’s dominance via scores of 118-110 and 116-112 twice.

More on this developing story late tonight after the post-fight press conference.

LEO SANTA CRUZ UD10 JOSE CAYETANO: Leo Santa Cruz’s mismatch was against a fighter not even ranked in the Top 100 of the featherweight class. Cayetano displayed a sturdy chin and body, but was too undersized to offer anything else aside from sporadic counter attempts. Santa Cruz landed multitudes of rights hands but never appeared to hurt Cayetano. The scores were 100-90 across the board. Santa Cruz at least stated in his post-fight interview that he wants Abner Mares next. We’ll soon find out how serious he is.

LOMACHENKO KO9 RODRIGUEZ: Vasyl Lomachenko bided his time and delivered a class performance in scoring a knockout over Gamalier Rodriguez. Lomachenko did his best work when he delivered hooks downstairs and mixed in uppercuts. At times, Lomachenko’s amateur roots delayed the inevitable by his use of pitty-pat power shots just to keep Rodriguez guessing. The first knockdown came in the 7th on a delayed reaction to a straight left downstairs. A succession of right hooks forced Rodriguez to take a knee in 9th. He appeared to misjudge the count and rose just after 10.


StiverneWilder_Hoganphotos3 & 3

Photo Credits: Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions


LAS VEGAS — The US heavyweight title drought is over. For the first time since 2006, a heavyweight from the United States holds a portion of the biggest prize in boxing, as Deontay Wilder relied on movement and a punishing jab to decision Bermane Stiverne last night at the MGM Grand.

There were many questions going into last night. Can Wilder fight past 4 rounds? Can the undefeated slugger takes punches as well as he gives them? While there are a few that are still outstanding, Wilder did answer the most pressing ones — he’s not a “fraud” and is a serious threat to any fighter in the division.

Bermane Stiverne vs Deontay Wilder

STIVERNE WALKS WILDER DOWN…WITH NO PUNCHES?!: The atmosphere was tense in the early rounds with Stiverne coming with a high guard, attempting to catch Wilder’s stiff jab and right hands before countering with single, hard shots. If you’re a Stiverne fan, you had optimism early on because the Haitian champion was able to get very close to Wilder without having to jab his way in. However, we witnessed the first problem with this strategy at the end of the second, when Stiverne was badly staggered by a right hand around the gloves and a succession of short hooks. Stiverne was forced to hold and tackled Wilder to end the round.

Bermane Stiverne vs Deontay Wilder

From there, Stiverne did an unwise imitation of Dereck Chisora’s recent rematch strategy against Tyson Fury. He plodded after Wilder without much head movement, hoping to land a haymaker counter once Wilder threw a wild shot. But Wilder kept those wild moments to a bare minimum. He’d occasionally throw a hard 1-2, but banked most rounds by simply jabbing and moving away. His height and reach also eliminated the effectiveness of Stiverne’s usually dangerous overhand right.

CHIN ANSWERS: Stiverne did manage to test Wilder’s chin a few times. The fourth round was the first time Stiverne consistently landed hooks to the body, which started to make Wilder’s backpedaling less fluid and lowered his guard. A left hook wobbled the challenger early in the sixth. However, Wilder remained composed and relied on his long jab to stifle Stiverne’s chances to follow-up.

By the seventh, the chin questions turned away from Wilder’s and to how much more Stiverne could take. The champion was staggered by a right hand, but still had the awareness to try to land a counter right as Wilder rushed him with more power punches. In the ninth, Wilder abused Stiverne with power jabs and right crosses. The championship rounds offered little reprieve for Stiverne until the 12th, when Wilder opted to maul and smother Stiverne inside to prevent any chances of a Hail Mary shot.

LATE EDUCATION: Deontay Wilder shouldn’t have been matched so lowly that he had to wait until his first title shot to go 12 rounds. Nonetheless, the experience he got last night will prove invaluable for his confidence as a world titlist.

“I’m just excited and happy to bring this belt back to America,” Wilder said.¬† “It’s going to mean a lot. I think I answered a lot of questions tonight. We knew we could go 12 rounds. We knew we could take a punch. We knew we could do it.”

With Al Haymon in his corner, Wilder is in a great position. His options include an international trash-talking bonanza against Tyson Fury, going for all the glory against Wladimir Klitschko later this year, or the assortment of ranked credible contenders in the WBC (#2 Alexander Povetkin, #3 Bryant Jennings, #4 Mike Perez).

When asked about his head-scratching strategy, Stiverne seemed clueless himself in pin-pointing what went wrong.

“It wasn’t my night,” Stiverne said.¬† “I felt 100 percent before the fight but once I got in the ring I couldn’t cut the ring, I couldn’t move my head like I usually do. What can I say? Congrats to him.

“I knew I was trying to throw combos of four or five punches and I could only throw two of them.¬† I just felt like I was flat in the ring.¬† What I know I could do I didn’t do.¬† I just have to go back and learn from my mistakes and find out what happened tonight.”

Stiverne is still a capable fighter, but as a 36 year-old, this might be the last time we see him in the title picture.


Amir Imam vs Fidel Maldonado Jr

THE AMIR IMAM-FIDEL MALDONADO SHOOTOUT: Many, myself included, dubbed this the sleeper fight of the night and that ended up being an understatement with 5 knockdowns between them before Imam scored a TKO in the fifth round.

Maldonado had a high activity rate in the first round and landed some nice left hooks. But Maldonado got too bold and was dropped hard with a short right in the waning moments of the second. From there, any strategy on Maldonado’s part went out the window. The very next round, Maldonado put Imam down for the first time in his career with a straight left in the opening seconds. But between the two, Imam was the harder puncher, and the Maldonado’s brawling got him dropped twice more in the round via two right hands.

The finale would come at the close of the fifth. Maldonado was suckered into a modified “rope-a-dope” and got badly stung by a right hand, then dropped by a left hook. Maldonado got up from this fourth knockdown, but referee Robert Byrd wisely ruled him in no shape to continue.

“I just got caught with a couple of punches,” Maldonado reflected.¬† “He kept his composure and he came out with the W. ¬†I just got caught.¬† I got lazy in there and he capitalized. ¬†He was the better man tonight.¬† I got kind of bored at the end of the rounds and I paid for it.”

This was a crossroads fight for both prospects, and Imam now feels he’s ready for a title shot at 140. His first target was Adrien Broner, who reportedly declined. I like Imam’s ambition, but he needs to take down a Top 10-15 guy first before even considering a Broner or the champ, Danny Garcia.


Leo Santa Cruz vs Jesus Ruiz

LEO SANTA CRUZ TKO8 JESUS RUIZ: Leo Santa Cruz’s latest high-priced exhibition took a little longer than expected with the WBC super bantamweight titlist scoring a technical stoppage in the eighth. Early on, Ruiz fought on even terms during the phone booth exchanges. But Santa Cruz’s superior class began to take over in the middle rounds with his consistent body attack (73 power shots overall) and short hooks inside. A right cross made Ruiz stagger into the ropes. Santa Cruz rained down non-stop punches as Ruiz attempting to fight off the ropes. Referee Kenny Bayless made the call for a questionable stoppage, mostly due to a few of the shots snapping back Ruiz’s head.

“I want a rematch,” Ruiz said.¬† “I don’t feel they should have stopped the fight, but I have to accept it.¬†But I’m fine.¬†Look at me – I’m not cut. He didn’t even drop me.”

With all the backlash from about his recent competition, Santa Cruz has started saying all the right things about wanting to face either Guillermo Rigondeaux or Abner Mares. Considering that Mares and Santa Cruz are both signed to Golden Boy, bank on that being the next fight. And with their styles, I’d wager it could be a potential Fight of the Year.



Vyacheslav Shabranskyy RTD9 GARRETT WILSON: Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy delivered a dominant performance over Garrett Wilson, scoring two knockdowns and forcing a corner stoppage before the ninth. The height and reach disparity forced Wilson into dangerous gambles, allowing Shabranskyy to catch him with hard counter shots. A badly swollen jaw and the rounds of one-way traffic punishment caused referee Jay Nady to make the right decision in calling the fight off. Shabranskyy improves to 12-0 while Wilson loses his fourth straight, falling to 13-9-1.



ERIC MOLINA TKO8 RAPHAEL ZUMBANO: The evening opened with an entertaining heavyweight contest in Eric Molina sharp-shooting Raphael Zumbano in route to an eighth round stoppage. Zumbrano’s best asset was his ability to come forward. But with no semblance of defense from Zumbano, Molina made him consistently pay with right hooks and uppercuts. Zumbrano was stopped on the ropes after eating 76% of Molina’s power shots.

Since Molina is a Don King heavyweight like Stiverne, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them matched up next.