By Miguel Maravilla
Photo: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
WBC super bantamweight world champion Leo “Terremoto” Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KOs) of Lincoln Heights by way of Huetamo, Michoacan, Mexico, is getting set for his next fight when he takes on fellow Mexican Manuel “Suavecito” Roman (17-2-3, 6 KOs). Saturday September 13 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Fightnews.com caught up with Santa Cruz at his training camp headquarters the Who’s Next Boxing Gym in Industry, California working with his father and trainer Jose Santa Cruz alongside with his brothers former WBC lightweight champion Jose Armando and former lightweight Roberto Santa Cruz. The champ spoke to us about his upcoming fight and training camp.
“I feel good. I started training camp a month ago. I was in the gym training lightly so we are training hard already,” Santa Cruz told Fightnews.com.
His father and trainer Jose Santa Cruz added, “Leo is ready now. If the fight were to take place tomorrow he would be ready.”
Santa Cruz also gave us his take on the talented super bantamweight division and potential opponents he would like to face later down the line. “Terremoto” discussed undefeated Cuban WBA/WBO champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, England’s WBA champion #2 Scott Quigg, IBF champion Kiko Martinez of Spain who will face Ireland’s Carl Frampton in a rematch on Saturday.
“Frampton is not that complicated, he comes forward. The only thing we would have to look for is his power, he has knockout power.”
“Quigg boxes a little more but he comes forward when he has to.”
“Kiko, he is another guy like me. He comes forward throwing a lot of punches.”
“I called out Rigondeaux. I want to fight him but it all depends on the team. I think we have to decide when. If it was up to me I would fight him already because the fans want it. People will say that he will take me to school. I know Rigo is a really hard fight but I will be like all Mexicans and bring the fight forward. Leave it all in the ring.”
“He knows I come forward and throw over 100 punches per round. He is a counter puncher. We would have to be at our best. He knows I will go out there with everything it would be the most important fight of my life.”
“Hopefully we get one of those by next year or whenever. It depends on the whole team,” Santa Cruz said.
Already fighting on some of the major cards in boxing, Santa Cruz is slowly becoming a star under Golden Boy Promotions and Al Haymon. Since winning the IBF bantamweight title over Vusi Malinga back in June of 2012, we has appeared four times on Showtime Championship Boxing, as well as a nationally televised fight on CBS and two Showtime pay per view cards.
“Everything is working well with Golden Boy and Al Haymon. I am training and fighting, they are getting the fights,” Santa Cruz said. The September 13 Mayweather-Maidana undercard will be his third pay-per view card.
Coming off a unanimous decision win over former world champion Cristian Mijares last March, in what was his second consecutive fight against a southpaw, Santa Cruz had to earn the victory over twelve rounds.
“It was a great experience I learned a lot from that fight. I thought it was going to be more complicated than it was but we trained hard for that style. The fight before that (Cesar Seda) was complicated because of his style. I have never really fought those kinds of styles. Mijares came in easier than we thought. We couldn’t knock him out because he was really experienced but we’re happy we came out with the win.
“It helped me a lot. I never really fought southpaws. The first one was complicated and in the second fight I was ready for a southpaw,” Leo Santa Cruz said as now he looks to defend his title for a third time against Roman, who fights out of the orthodox stance.
Roman, a former stable mate and sparring partner of Santa Cruz at the Maywood Boxing Gym, is unknown to most that will be tuned into the pay-per-view card, but Santa Cruz knows him very well. Roman won a six round unanimous decision over Jose Silveria last May and held his own against unbeaten IBF bantamweight mandatory challenger Randy Caballero in going the distance. Caballero will soon be fighting for a world title.
The Elder Santa Cruz commented “[Roman] is a good fighter a boxer. We’ve sparred with him before. He’s a good friend of ours. I think he’ll give him a good fight the first six rounds.”
The champion stated, “He’s a great fighter I use to spar with him in Maywood. We use to spar all the time. We are like friends but he is the opponent they gave me. He has a great punch. It will be a great war with him. I will come out give it my best and leave it all in the ring!”
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