One of the most consistently exciting fighters in the sport today regardless of weight class, featherweight warrior Leo Santa Cruz has options, quite a few of them. Last night in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz retained his WBA title in yet another fan-friendly battle, winning via wide but competitive decision over a very game Rafael Rivera. Now 36-1-1(19) the Mexican star threw a staggering 1,350 punches in the fight, this the second-most he has thrown in his long career.
Still as hungry, still as fast and aggressive and still as tough, Santa Cruz clearly has a whole lot left. So what next for him? The sole loss on Santa Cruz’ record came at the hands of Irish warrior Carl Frampton, himself a consistently thrilling fighter, win, lose or draw, and last night in victory, Santa Cruz expressed interest in fighting Frampton again. As fans know, the two 126 pounders are currently all even at 1-1 and a rubber-match would be most welcome.
Fight-one was epic, while in the rematch Santa Cruz switched tactics and boxed cleverly and more conservatively. It didn’t make for as thrilling a fight, though it was still engrossing, and we fans wonder what we would get in a part-three. From a UK perspective it is hoped Santa Cruz and Frampton do fight again, maybe next. Frampton took a good look inside after his punishing decision loss to Josh Warrington and he decided that yes, he wants to fight on but he insisted how only the big fights interest him.
It’s the same with Santa Cruz, and he did say that he would also like to fight the other world champions this year. Santa Cruz aims to have an active 2019: “I want to fight any of the champions at featherweight or have a third fight with Carl Frampton,” Santa Cruz, who dedicated last night’s win to his father, said. “I want to be back this summer and fight three times this year.”
For fight fans everywhere, this is great news. Whether he fights Frampton next, or Oscar Valdez, or Gary Russell Jr. or even Warrington, Santa Cruz can be relied upon to provide the paying fans with some superb action.