|Leo Santa Cruz.|
The 24-year old was one of the breakthrough stars of 2012, fighting on five occasions and looking impressive every time. He is now in search for the "big" fights at 122lb. The California-resident has long been linked with a mouth-watering bout with Abner Mares, another young fighter who made it into the big time in 2012. However, Mares looks set to step up to featherweight in search for a fight with WBC champ Daniel Ponce De Leon so that fight looks unlikely at this current time. But there's still plenty of exciting match-ups for Cruz at super-bantamweight, and his promoters at Golden Boy agree.
"For the first fight at the higher weight class we want to pick a quality opponent and we see that in the next two or so fights Leo will be fighting for a world title again," said Golden Boy Chief Executive Richard Schaefer. "We will have to see what is available for him for a big fight, but we believe as a company, that in no particular order, Leo Santa Cruz, (Nonito) Donaire, Abner Mares, (Guillermo) Rigondeaux and Gary Russell Jr. are the best guys in these weight classes (super-bantamweight and featherweight), and we are not afraid to put Leo in with anyone."
The IBF bantamweight title will now be contested by Britain's Jamie McDonnell (20-2, 9 KO's) and fast-rising Mexican Julio Ceja (24-0, 22 KO's).
Both fighters have more than earned their shot at this title and will enter into a real 50/50 fight. McDonnell, 26, is undefeated in the last 5 years and recently won an eliminator against Darwin Zamora to earn his place as mandatory challenger. Ceja, just 20 years of age, has looked unstoppable in his perfect career so far winning all 24 fights and knocking out 22 of his victims. This has seen him become one of the most highly-rated prospects in the lighter weight divisions.
The young Mexican has never come up against a guy of McDonnell's experience and stature but it will be hard to pick against him when the two do meet. The date and venue for this fight is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.