Santa Cruz Wins in Anaheim

Santa Cruz Express keeps on rolling


By Igor Frank


ANAHEIM - WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz(32-0-1,18KO'S) thrilled an enthusiastic crowd inside Honda Center on Saturday night with a spectacular 5th round TKO  win over game challenger from Spain, Kiko Martinez(35-7, 26KO'S). It was one of the most exciting one sided fights I have ever seen.


"I wanted to give the fans a great fight," said elated Santa Cruz:" We went toe-to-toe and he is a thought fighter. I wanted to throw as many punches as I can so the fans could get a good show."


Leo did not disappoint fans; he came out like a wild bull in a rodeo and set a furious pace throwing hundred and forty two pinches in the very first round and dropping his opponent twice with a right hand.


"I knew I could hurt him with a right hand," said Santa Cruz, 28. “He's a fighter and when he's knocked down he is going to get up"


Martinez did get up both times and not only made it through the first round but continued to fight his heart out mounting his own attack , landing shots in close and bloodying the champion's nose in the third stanza.


“He was ready and he brought it on," explained local champion. “The fans love it when two fighters go toe-to-toe and that's what we did tonight."


Fighting toe-to-toe was the only way undersized Martinez with a shorter reach had a chance and so he went for it." He was like a bull coming forward really strong," said Santa Cruz. “He has definitely been one of the strongest fighters I've been in the ring with yet."


But the taller Santa Cruz with the longer reach had options and as soon as he started to box after he got his nose bloodied in the third stanza the action turned.


The champion was able to close the show in the fifth stanza. Once again he hurt the challenger with the right hand and unleashed a furious attack after he trapped Martinez against the ropes forcing referee Raul Caiz Sr. to end the night.


“In the fifth round I knew I had to finish him off and I did," said Santa Cruz who left no one in the arena disappointed.


On the undercard Hugo Ruiz (36-3, 32 KO'S) avenged his loss and scored a spectacular first round knockout over WBC super bantamweight champion Julio Ceja (30-2, 27KO'S). Ceja injured his ankle when he went down and was not able to defend himself when Ruiz went for the kill. Can you spell a rubber match?


Contact Igor Frank via email at or via Twitter (Fightmonger)