(Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME) In easily the most exciting fight of this weekend’s fights, WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs) stood in the trenches and slugged it out with the hard hitting Kiko Martinez (35-7, 26 KOs) in mowing him down in five thrilling rounds on Showtime Boxing on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Santa Cruz put Martinez down on two separate occasions in the 2nd round of the 12 round fight. The end of the fight came in the 5th, when the 27-year-old Santa Cruz unloaded on Martinez with a nonstop storm of shots that resulted in referee Raul Caiz Jr. pulling the plug on the fight. Martinez, 29, was still on his feet, but he was near helpless if not for the referee stopping it. The official time of the stoppage was at 2:09 of the round.
Santa Cruz looked like he purposefully chose to slug it out with Martinez rather than standing on the outside and boxing him, which he easily could have done if he wanted to. Instead, Santa Cruz decided to give the large crowd of fans a great shot in a Golovkin-esque type of performance. Santa Cruz put his chin on the line in unloading punch after punch. Martinez was able to match him almost punch for punch until the 5th, when Santa Cruz increased his punch output to a point that Martinez couldn’t match what he was putting out.
It’s going to be interesting to see where Santa Cruz goes from here. Does he look to face IBF/WBA super bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, who defeated Scot Quigg earlier tonight by a 12 round split decision, or does he choose instead to try and fight someone like Vasyl Lomachenko. Santa Cruz and his adviser Al Haymon have a big decision to make. They could choose to just milk the WBA title by continuing to face old lions like Martinez, who came into the fight with two defeats in his last five fights.
In the co-feature bout, challenger Hugo Ruiz (36-3, 32 KOs) made quick worth of WBC super bantamweight champion Julio Ceja (30-2, 27 KOs) in stopping him in the 2nd round. Ruiz sent crashing to the canvas after nailing him with a right hand to the head. Ceja was hurt while falling down. He got up and bravely attempted to continue fighting, but Ruiz snowed him under with shots to the head until the referee Tom Taylor was forced to step in and halt the fight at 0:51 of the round.
This victory for Ruiz avenges his 5th round knockout loss from last August at the hands of Ceja. That fight saw both fighters hit the deck.