The four-division titlist and current 130-pound World Champion has set his sights on a 2020 super-fight against undefeated two-division World Champion Gervonta Davis.
Leo Santa Cruz spent the holidays in style as a newly crowned four-division world champion.
The 31-year old Mexican fighter, fresh off another title-clinching performance, this time against Miguel Flores on Nov. 23, finally had a chance to rest and reset.
After outpointing Flores, Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) and his family spent a week in Seattle for Thanksgiving before ringing in Christmas and the New Year at his Corona home in Los Angeles.
Now refreshed, Santa Cruz has his sights set on returning to fight one of the sport’s rising stars in Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs).
“I really was able to enjoy the holidays for the first time in a while, and not having to worry about sleep and nutrition,” said Santa Cruz in an interview. “My New Year’s resolution is to get the Gervonta Davis fight, and for my family and father to be healthy.
“I think a Davis fight is going to happen. I’m ready to fight him now. He has good power, but I don’t care. I want to go out and show the fans that I’m not scared of anybody. Who else is better than Davis? He’s the most dangerous and popular fighter right now.”
Santa Cruz stepped into a new division as a 130-pound fighter against Flores to win the WBA super world super featherweight title — the same belt Davis vacated when he moved up to the 135-pound division to knock out Yuriorkis Gamboa for the WBA lightweight title in December.
If a fight were to take place, Santa Cruz said he would prefer for it to happen at 130, but also said he’d be willing to jump up yet another division and face Davis at 135 for a shot at a title in a fifth weight different weight class.
Davis made the 135-pound weight limit after a second attempt against Gamboa in his division debut. However, he stated afterward that he could still fight at 130 for the right fight and previously told The PBC Podcast that he’d be willing to fight Santa Cruz at his preferred weight.
“The 130-pound division is my preference. I’m going to get better at that weight,” said Santa Cruz, who has also won world titles at 118, 122 and 126 and became the fifth Mexican fighter to win championships across four weight divisions.
Santa Cruz walks around at most as a 143 pounder, he said, and doesn’t see himself ever fighting above the lightweight limit.
Against Flores, although victorious via unanimous decision as the pay-per-view co-feature to Deontay Wilder’s destructive KO over Luis Ortiz, Santa Cruz had somewhat of an uneven performance, suffering a cut over his left eye that required six stitches en route to scores of 117-110, 117-110 and 115-112.
“ I’m ready to fight [Gervonta Davis] now. He has good power, but I don’t care. ” WBA Super World Super Featherweight Champion - Leo Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is known for his relentless pressure and throwing over a hundred punches per round, but against Flores, Santa Cruz averaged 75 per round while landing 28% of his shots.
He said he was sick the week of the fight but didn’t tell anyone outside of his team that he was under the weather.
“I wasn’t able to recover. I felt weak, and it didn’t let me show my full potential and all of the work I put into the gym. Hopefully once I get the fight with Gervonta, it won’t happen again so I can show my best.”
Santa Cruz believes his performance against Flores could make Davis believe he’s a vulnerable fighter, and thus, make Davis more willing to fight him. He immediately added that Davis didn’t look as good as others expected either before knocking out Gamboa in the twelfth after the Cuban fought with a ruptured Achilles tendon from round two onward.
“I’m learning each and every day,” Davis said afterward. “2020 will be a big year. I feel comfortable at both weights. I feel I could fight at 130 or 135. I’m the top dog. Bring ‘em on.”
“He’s still a good fighter, but he gets tired,” added Santa Cruz. “He’s never gone a full 12 rounds, and he just tries to get you out with one knockout punch. In boxing, anything can happen. I can go out there and look good against him and beat him. He can catch me with a good shot and knock me out. But I’m going to be working in the gym and be smart to not get caught with those punches.”
A fight between both pugilists would prove to be the biggest test for both fighters. Santa Cruz said he’s ready to sign on the dotted line right away and would welcome for the fight to take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles or the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
If a match with Davis can’t be made, Santa Cruz said he wants to resume his career with big fights at 130 and face WBC World Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr.
Santa Cruz admitted that the hardest puncher he’s faced to date is Carl Frampton, the sole conqueror of his career that he later went on to avenge. He believes Davis packs a more powerful punch than Frampton, but said he’ll alleviate that with a cavalcade of combinations and pressure in order to come away victorious in a potential future fight.
“I’m going to work on my chin by sparring with bigger fighters in the 140-pound division,” said Santa Cruz. “We have to be very, very careful not to get caught with Gervonta’s big punches.”
For a closer look at Leo Santa Cruz, check out his fighter page.
- Leo Santa Cruz