By Jack Sumner @Jack_Sumner_
|Leo Santa Cruz looking to become a 2-weight world champ.|
Rising star Leo Santa Cruz attempts to become a two-weight world champion this Saturday, when he challenges Victor Terrazas for the latter’s WBC super bantamweight crown at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The unbeaten Santa Cruz, who’s become one of the most acclaimed young fighters in the sport over the past year, is then targeting a fight with Abner Mares at featherweight should both men emerge victorious this weekend.
Mares headlines the show with his own WBC title defence against veteran puncher Jhonny Gonzalez and a fight between the two Californian-based Mexican’s would be a big attraction should it eventually come off. Neither man can afford to overlook their respective opponents on Saturday however and in Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KO’s), Santa Cruz is faced with a formidable champion who has dispatched a number of top names before.
|Terrazas is the champ and presents a tough test for young Cruz.|
The Guadalajara native is on a run of eleven straight victories, since a 2010 loss against former world title contender Rendall Munroe. That loss aside, the 30-year-old has won 31 of his last 32 bouts, claiming his most impressive scalp to date when he knocked down and outpointed former three-division champion Fernando Montiel in late 2011. In his last outing, Terrazas claimed the vacant WBC strap with a victory over Cristian Mijares, a well regarded two-time super flyweight titlist who was coming off an impressive string of victories.
Santa Cruz (24-0-1 14 KO’s) was impressive making his debut at super bantamweight in May, when he scored a 5th round TKO of Alexander Munoz on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s win over Robert Guerrero. The 25-year-old dominated Munoz for four complete rounds with relentless pressure and a brutal body attack, before a second knockdown midway through the fifth forced the victim’s corner to stop the fight.
Almost 25% of Santa Cruz’s punches landed against Munoz were sickening shots to the body, which has been a familiar sequence throughout much of his career. Many consider that Santa Cruz is the best body puncher in the game right now and with his unrelenting, come-forward style he’s been called a lower weight version of Antonio Margarito.
Just like the Tijuana Tornado however, Santa Cruz takes punches to give them and with those kind of holes in his defence, a more experienced opponent with decent firepower could exploit that weakness. If there’s one area that Terrazas holds the trump card in this fight, it’s experience and if he can take the best of what Santa Cruz has to offer and land his best shots on the youngster at close quarters, perhaps he can discourage the favourite and cause the upset to defend his title.
That’s a big if however and on previous evidence, there’s nothing to suggest Santa Cruz being discouraged. He has a fantastic engine also and can likely fight in the trenches for the full twelve-rounds. Terrazas is going to leave gaps himself as this promises to be a shootout between two fighters who like to stand and trade at close quarters. It will be exciting while it lasts, but one man should eventually be outgunned and if I were a betting man, I’d say that will be Terrazas.
Santa Cruz to win by late stoppage, or a clear points win with a late knockdown, to at least set tongues wagging about a clash with Mares should he also emerge with his unbeaten record intact.