By Miguel Maravilla
Photo: Rene Perez
Fightnews.com caught up with WBC Super bantamweight champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15 KOs) of Lincoln Heights, California by way of Huetamo, Michoacan, Mexico in the final phase of his training camp as he geared up for Saturday’s fight against former world champion Cristian Mijares (49-7-2, 24 KOs) of Gomez Palacio, Durango, Mexico. Santa Cruz-Mijares will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas live on Showtime Pay per-view. We caught up with the champion at his headquarters, the Who’s Next Boxing Gym in the City of Industry, California. Santa Cruz talked about his training camp, the super bantamweight division, and his upcoming fight with Mijares.
“Training camp is going great. I am working really hard. Everything is great and we’re ready for March 8,” Santa Cruz told us. “My upcoming fight with Mijares is a great opportunity for me to get more exposure. For the Mexican fans, beating Mijares will be a big name for me.”
Working with his father and trainer Jose Santa Cruz, the 25 year old has had some solid sparring in preparation for Mijares. Santa Cruz sparred with undefeated southpaw featherweight prospects Juan Funez (4-0, 1 KO) and Roy Tapia (8-0-1, 3 KOs), for this camp to adapt to Mijares stick and move style.
“I have been sparring with different styles because Mijares boxes and mixes it up,” Santa Cruz on his preparation with sparring partners.
“My son is very well prepared he is ready,” Leo’s father and trainer Jose Santa Cruz told Fightnews.com.
Coming off a unanimous decision win last December over Puerto Rico’s Cesar Ceda in what was a complicated fight, Santa Cruz successfully defended his WBC title for the first time. It was highly noted in that fight of Santa Cruz’s habit of twitching his hand during the fight as he continued to follow up with punches stalking the crafty southpaw.
“It was a good fight. We were surprised he went the distance. Ceda is good fighter. It was a hard fight,” Mr. Santa Cruz said about his son’s last fight.
“I think Ceda has a Mijares style that fight helped me and gave me experience. I had to cut the ring off, pressure, it was a complicated fight. We will learn from that fight,” Santa Cruz said about his last fight. “It’s a habit. When the gloves are tight I loosen it up. I will work on breaking that habit,” Santa Cruz added.
Once again Santa Cruz will be taking on a southpaw in Mijares, as he scored a third round knockout over Jovanny Soto in his last fight. The 32-year-old Mijares came up short in his last title fight as he lost a split decision against Victor Terrazas in a close one last April. The former world champion won his first world title in 2006 against Japan’s Katsushige Kawashima then moved up in weight where he defeated Mexican slugger Jorge Arce out-slicking him for a unanimous decision winning his second world title. Adding to his resume Mijares has also been up against former world champions Vic Darchinyan, Alexander Munoz, and Rafael Marquez.
“He boxes, he don’t trade punches, he punches and moves. We have to work on cutting the ring, put pressure,” Santa Cruz said. “The best fight I saw him in is when he beat Arce.”
“He is a good fighter, a former world champion, comes in hungry. It will be a good fight,” Mr. Santa Cruz said about Mijares.
El Terromoto looks to shake things up to begin his 2014 campaign, a win against Mijares will potentially set the stage for a title unification bout against one of the other champions in the super bantamweight division.
“Hopefully everything goes good this fight. We win there is Frampton, Quigg, Kiko Martinez, and Rigondeaux right now. Rigo is with Top Rank. Everyone wants that fight but first we can fight Frampton or Quigg. They have the same style as me, they give the fans what they want. And then I’ll take on Rigondeaux next year,” Santa Cruz said.
Once again Santa Cruz will be featured on a major card as he is quickly catching the eyes of many.
“For me it’s a dream come true. Growing up I saw all the big fights. Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar de la Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Vargas I never thought I would be on a big card and all the hard work has paid off,” Santa Cruz commented.
“I want my son to fight like always with everything he’s got but I demand that he wins. I can assure you this it will be a good fight,” Mr. Santa Cruz added.
The event is being called “Toe to Toe” and Santa Cruz vs. Mijares another encounter between two Mexican’s will serve as an appetizer to the main dish, Alvarez vs. Angulo. Styles make fights as Santa Cruz an all-out boxer puncher will look to hunt down the elusive and slick southpaw Mijares. Coming into this fight Santa Cruz represents youth as he will be up against the experienced veteran Mijares. Will we see a type of repeat like Jhonny Gonzalez’s upset knockout win over the previously undefeated Abner Mares? Santa Cruz is focused and aware of what Mijares brings to the ring as he looks to defend and regain his WBC title.
“I don’t ever underestimate any fighter. They are saying that he’s old and finished but I don’t let that get to my head. When you’re in the ring you never know what’s is going to happen. Mijares still has it,” Santa Cruz said.
“Fight night I will go in there like if I am the challenger, like I want that belt, I will give my best. I know Mijares is a former world champion. He comes in hungry too and I am not going to let him surprise me. I’ll go out there leave it all in the ring, give it my best, the only thing I want is a win,” Santa Cruz concluded.
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