Leo Santa Cruz gets first shot as promoter ahead of title defense against Kiko Martinez

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Last weekend in Ontario, California, Jose Ramirez took a wide unanimous decision over Juan Luis Hernandez in a 130-pound bout. Two journeymen at 27-6 (Ramirez) and 18-6-1 (Hernandez) fighting in a Radison hotel 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles wouldn’t normally be a big deal, but this was the first card under Last Round Promotions.

Leo Santa Cruz and Jose Santa Cruz

Leo Santa Cruz and his father, Jose, have fun with the ring announcer before the first Last Round Promotions card on February 6 in Ontario, California. (Photo by Raymond Rodriguez)

Which just happens to be 126-pound world champion Leo Santa Cruz’s brand-new promotion. At 27, in the prime of his career, Santa Cruz already has an eye on the future.

“My team, my brothers and my friends, they were talking about what we were going to do after I retired from boxing,” he said. “I want to stay in boxing so we can help fighters out and stay in touch with boxing.”

Of course, there’s the little matter of Santa Cruz prepping to defend his world title against Kiko Martinez on February 27 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).

Training for the veteran Spaniard is priority one, of course. It’s a fight Santa Cruz absolutely must win, particularly when two potential opponents, 122-pound world champs Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg—who are facing each other in a title unification bout in Manchester, England, on the same day—have already beaten Martinez.

“Right now it's kind of hard [to work as a promoter] because I don't have time,” Santa Cruz said. “My brothers and my friends are taking care of it right now. Once I retire from boxing, I'm going to go 100 percent into it.”

If that model sounds familiar, it’s because an increasing number of promotions headed by ex-fighters have been popping up over the years. The more successful those existing promotions become, the more the next generation of fighters are going to use it as a viable tool to stay connected with the sport.

It leaves Santa Cruz with high hopes for how far he can take this thing.

“We can get some talent up there,” he said. “Maybe we can get a champion in the future.”

For complete coverage of Santa Cruz vs Martinez, make sure to visit our fight page. 

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