Leo Santa Cruz made his bones at 118 pounds, fought for nearly two years at 122 and then moved up to 126 in May. All that, it turns out, is prelude, because the three-division world champion likely isn’t done moving up.
With just two bouts at 126 under his belt—wins over Jose Cayetano and Abner Mares—and a third against Kiko Martinez looming Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), Santa Cruz isn’t sure how many more fights he has left at this weight.
“My goal is to move up to 130,” Leo Santa Cruz said. “I want to win titles in different weight classes. I want to win at 118, 122, 126, so maybe I'll stay here for a little while. It depends on the opportunities. Maybe 126 for one more year, then we'll move up to 130 looking for a title there.”
After his scrap with Martinez, Santa Cruz said he'd like to fight at least two more times this year. While the move to 130 is penciled in for sometime in 2017, he could also consider remaining at 126 or even going back down to 122, depending on what fights are out there.
In particular, it’s dependent on the 122-pound title unification fight between Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg. That bout, held Saturday at Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom (Showtime, 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT), will be decided a few hours before the Santa Cruz-Martinez tilt.
Frampton said after his title defense against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. in July that he wants to move up to 126 at some point. A win and a potential date against Santa Cruz would give Frampton the perfect opportunity to do so. Quigg hasn’t fought above 122 since 2009.
“If there's a big opportunity at 122, we'll go down to 122,” Santa Cruz said. “If not, it's 126. But I think that's the thing: One year. Maybe unify titles, and once we're set over there, move up to 130 and look for another title.”
To get there, Santa Cruz has been working with a strength and conditioning coach, Andy Aguilar, who first joined his team ahead of the Mares scrap.
For smaller-framed fighters, packing on muscle can sometimes be a slog. But the 27-year-old Santa Cruz said he walks around at 136, so there’s a definte appeal to competing at 130.
“It's harder to lose weight because it's muscle weight,” he said. “Little by little, my body is growing. We've got to look for more muscle, but we're also working on speed and stuff because we don't want to get bigger and get slower, so we're working on everything. Nothing has changed. We get stronger and we stay fast, and we have a ton of ability.”
For complete coverage of Santa Cruz vs Martinez, make sure to check out our fight page.