In the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas, Nonito Donaire and Alexandro Santiago are preparing to bring their A-game to the illustrious T-Mobile Arena tonight. This fight, part of the Spence Jr vs. Terence Crawford undercard, will see the two boxers compete for the WBC Bantamweight World Championship.
The originally planned Gurgen Hovhannisyan vs. Viktor Faust fight has been cancelled due to unforeseen injuries. As a result, the Donaire vs. Santiago clash has now stepped into the limelight as the second showdown of the pay-per-view spectacle.
Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz will cross gloves with Giovanni Cabrera. Their 12-round extravaganza will determine the next contender for the WBC and WBA Lightweight Titles.
Meanwhile, Nonito Donaire, a seasoned warrior, is itching to add another title to his resume. Having once reveled in the glory of the bantamweight title, he’s now hungry to reclaim his place at the top. His thirst for the championship is huge, as he readies himself to rise to the occasion once again.
An excited Donaire said, “This historic boxing night is my stage to become a world champion again.”
Alexandro Santiago is setting his sights on the bantamweight title for the first time. Despite a stumble against Gary Antonio Russell in 2021, Santiago has been on a roll and appears ready to seize this golden opportunity with everything he’s got.
Reflecting on his journey, Santiago declared, “I’ve been thirsting for another world title shot for five years; a two-week extension won’t faze me.” His gratitude towards his team and excitement for the grand event on July 29 is evident.
Also making waves is the rising star, Yoenis Tellez. This Cuban-born talent, now training in Texas with Shields, is brimming with enthusiasm to make a name for himself. In the same vein, despite recent challenges, Sergio Garcia remains steadfast in his quest for greatness, ready to give a knockout performance and inch closer to a world title.
Here is what the undercard fighters had to say Wednesday from MGM Grand:
“I’m just going to have to be smart, and not get into his game. I need to dictate everything.
“The big fights and the big moments I’ve had definitely helped me mature, and the quality of opponents I’ve had have made me better ever since I fought them.”
““His [Isaac Cruz] name is Pitbull. I thought he was going to bite me [at the fighter arrivals]. Good thing he didn’t.
“The bigger the anger of the beast, the harder he is going to fall on my sword. I am a bull fighter. I am a matador. Every fighter I have faced has tried to take my head off and I’ve picked them apart.”
“Everybody showed up to dance around, but I’m going to show all of these guys what this old man can do.
“I’m going to keep going. I’m going to keep fighting, and I’m going to get that undisputed bantamweight title. That’s the only thing I have not done. I’ve done everything else – Fighter of the Year, Knockout of the Year, multiple divisions unified.”
“I fully respect a legend like Donaire outside the ring no matter what, but inside the ring, my hunger to win is unparalleled and I don’t care who is in front of me.
“It is an advantage that I am young, but Donaire’s a very dangerous fighter regardless of his age. I’m not about to underestimate him because he punches really hard and can be very dangerous if you let him.”
“I’m good enough, I’m skilled enough and I’m hungry enough to take on something like this. When you have an opportunity to fight on a huge card like this one, it’s impossible to turn it down.
“There are so many things we want to do Saturday night. We’re going to put on a show, and you’re going to see me show out.”
“I’m so honored to be a part of this with all of you. All I want to do is put on a great show, because that’s what you all deserve.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that Tellez took this fight. Who wouldn’t take a fight like this on a card like this regardless of how many fights you’ve had beforehand? Experience will just be one factor of many in this fight.”
TOP LIGHTWEIGHT CONTENDER ISAAC CRUZ VOWS TO “PUT MEXICO ON TOP ONCE AGAIN”
Top lightweight contender and Mexico City-native Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz has vowed to make his country proud and solidify his status in the star-studded 135-pound division when he faces unbeaten Giovanni Cabrera in a WBC and WBA Lightweight Title Eliminator that serves as the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford co-main event live on SHOWTIME PPV Saturday, July 29 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I am ready to put Mexico on top once again and show that I am meant to go up against the best,” said Cruz. “I’m making sure that I’m working harder and smarter and making the most of everything I do in the gym. It’s not just about how hard you hit, you gotta be smart and have your punches connect in the way that you meant them to land all along.
“It may sound cliche, but it truly is about dedication, hard work and discipline. Being just a regular fighter is taking the easy way out. Saying no to a glass of water or to being with friends is hard. What we do is beautiful, but it’s hard. If you want to be an elite athlete, you have to learn how to live with sacrifice.”
Coming from a family full of professional boxers, including his father and grandfather, Cruz is no secret to the sacrifices his chosen profession requires at the highest level. Although he laments the time missed with his wife and children, it acts as motivation for him to perform at his best.
“The hardest thing I ever had to do was that I had to tell my wife and kids ‘today, I can’t take you for ice cream,’” said Cruz. “I’m fortunate that I train close to them, but I still miss a lot. At the end of the day, it only makes it more important that I make the most of these sacrifices and fight to my full ability. I fight at my best because of the love and support I receive from my family.”
The 25-year-old Cruz has become a fan-favorite amongst the passionate Mexican fans due to his all-action style that calls back to many of boxing’s most memorable Mexican champions and contenders. Although he’s competed at lightweight throughout his career that dates back to 2015, he has no plans of leaving the division and hopes to continue to develop his relationship with fans against the weight class’s other stars.
“I’m totally focused on staying at 135-pounds because it’s where I feel strongest and most comfortable,” said Cruz. “I just want to give everyone watching a great show. I’ve made a connection with the fans because I showed that I’m not afraid to fight the best. I have no fear, just resolve.”
Since giving unbeaten boxing superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis perhaps the toughest test of his career in their December 2021 clash, Cruz has set his sights on a blockbuster rematch against the WBA Lightweight Title holder. However, his plans are set beyond just Davis, with eyes on clearing out the entire division before settling a grudge match against Ryan Garcia.
“I want the American fans to know me as well as the Mexican fans, so I have to go up against the very best,” said Cruz. “First, I want that rematch with Gervonta Davis no matter what. After that, I want to face Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko. Then I’d like to face another contender in this division, and finally move up and take out Ryan Garcia.”