Friday, April 10, 2015

Leo Santa Cruz to fight on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao card

By Dan Ambrose: WBC super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs) will be added to the television portion of the Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Manny Pacquiao fight card on May 2nd on HBO and Showtime at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The opponent for the 26-year-old Santa Cruz has yet to be determined. Santa Cruz has taken a lot of heat recently for his three consecutive mismatches against Jesus Ruiz, Manuel Roman and Cristian Mijares.

With all the good fighters in the 122 pound division for Santa Cruz to potentially be facing, it’s strange that he’s being lined up against obscure opposition and/or against guys that are names from the past like Mijares.

“I’m told the televised undercard fight that Floyd is responsible for putting on the Mayweather-Pacquiao PPV will involve Leo Santa Cruz,” Dan Rafael of ESPN said on his twitter.

Adding Santa Cruz to the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight will potentially be a good thing depending on the opponent he faces. If Santa Cruz is matched up against another fringe contender or one of his old sparring partners again, it’s not going to be worth anything having him on the card.

If they choose to finally put Santa Cruz with a live body with a pulse, then it’ll be a good addition. Santa Cruz needs to be matched up against quality opposition because it’s been two years since his last fight against a decent quality opponent when he had to struggle to defeat Cesar Seda. That fight showed that Santa Cruz is vulnerable against fast guys. Luckily for Santa Cruz he wasn’t facing a really good opponent because he might have lost.

Santa Cruz has talked about wanting to fight WBA/WBO super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, but his adviser hasn’t made the move to put him in with Rigondeaux. It’s no longer interesting when Santa Cruz mentions Rigondeaux’s name because it’s clear that the fight won’t get made. It’s too bad because a fight against Rigondeaux would increase Santa Cruz’s popularity even if he lost the fight, which is highly likely.

What is true is that Santa Cruz won’t increase his popularity with boxing fans if he keeps getting matched up against soft opposition over and over again. He’s going into his third year of straight mismatches, and it’s really disappointing to see that. If they don’t want to match Santa Cruz against Rigondeaux, then at least put him in with IBF champion Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg or Kiko Martinez. Those fighters would all give Santa Cruz a run for his money, and I’m not sure that he would beat any of them.
Santa Cruz will likely be matched up against former three division world champion Abner Mares soon. Mares recently defeated Arturo Reyes in an unimpressive 10 round decision on March 7th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. For Mares, it was his third tune-up bout in a row after he was knocked out in the 1st round by Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013.

Mares does not look like he’s improving as a fighter. He clearly doesn’t belong at featherweight, and if he does wind up facing the new WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr, I see Mares getting beaten soundly.

Santa Cruz vs. Mares is a fight that will prove nothing. Santa Cruz is already starting to look like a paper champion at 122, and neither of those fighters will be able to do anything at featherweight. Russell Jr, Evgeny Gradovich, Nicholas Walters and Vasyl Lomachenko would all likely do a number on Santa Cruz and Mares if they fought them. Mares and Santa Cruz pretty much have to stay at 122 if they want to do anything, and even then, I think they probably need to stay away from certain fighters if they want to continue to win.

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