Leo vs Kiko

Photo by Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Leo Santa Cruz headlines this Saturday at the Honda Center.

By Igor Frank

“Headlining a televised card has been my childhood dream,” said undefeated champion, Leo Santa Cruz(31-0-1,17KO’S) on Thursday during a press conference:” I could have never imagined I was going to get this far. And Here I am, on my second main event, defending my title on a premium network. I’m so psyched. I cannot believe it.”

Twenty seven year old Santa Cruz is set to defend his WBA featherweight title against a hardnosed veteran from Spain, Kiko Martinez (36-6,26KO’S) on Saturday night, February 27th, 2016. Twelve rounds contest will be televised live by Showtime Championship Boxing from Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

I remember watching a 17 year old Santa Cruz train at the Maywood Boxing Club. His brother Armando was a lightweight champion at the time. Leo was a blue collar prospect who grew up during legendary gym wars in Maywood, no different from a number of young Mexican pugs hoping to get signed by a powerful promoter. I have to side with his statement; ten years ago I could have never imagined that he would be a multi division champion, headlining a card in Southern California.

If anything it has to be the result of hard work and dedication. How much are you willing to sacrifice? Santa Cruz is willing to give it his all.

“The first time I put the gloves on, I knew that I had found my craft,” said Santa Cruz. “and I also knew that it was not going to be an easy road. I knew that I had to work hard to become a champion. So, I trained the hardest and I fought the hardest, and with my father by my side I got here, where I’m at today. I owe him everything.”

The young champion from nearby Rosemead, California has won the hearts of many boxing fans with his aggressive, Mexican style of fighting, but even the majority of his most loyal admirers have been disappointed with his opposition lately, aside from the Abner Mares showdown. Saturday night’s match up against somewhat shop worn Martinez is considered nothing more than a stay busy fight. But 40 to one favorite Santa Cruz does not pick his opponents. He just fights whoever they put in front of him and he fights hard. And considering that this might be the last shot at big times for Kiko Martinez, who always comes to give it his all, this scrap will be fun as long as it lasts.

Tickets are very reasonably priced and are still available through Ticketmaster or directly at Honda Center. And if you are craving for action that is more competitive than a main event, a rematch between Mexican super bantamweights Hugo Ruiz (35-3, 31 KO’S) and Julio Ceja (30-1,27KO’S) virtually guarantees intense competition and heavy fire. Ceja scored a come from behind knock out in their first encounter to win an interim WBC junior featherweight belt. Ruiz is looking to even up the score.


Contact Igor Frank via email at axident@pacbell.net or via Twitter(Fightmonger)