Three weight world champion Leo Santa Cruz gets the opportunity to win another title in a fourth weight division when he meets tough fellow, Mexican Miguel Flores, on the Deontay Wilder vs Luis Ortiz II card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday 23rd November. They will contest the vacant WBA Super world super-featherweight title. The fight will be screened live in the USA by Fox and by Sky Sports in the UK.
If successful, Santa Cruz will join a very select group of Mexican greats that have achieved the feat of mastering four weight divisions, Erik Morales, Jorge Arce and Juan Manuel Marquez being the others.
You have to go a long way back in Santa Cruz's 36 wins, 1 defeat, and 1 draw record to find anyone that isn't in the category of high-quality opposition. From very early days, Santa Cruz, who makes his home in Rosemead, California, has honed his skills in tough fights and his style has made him a fan favourite because of that hard-minded work ethic. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
There are plenty of big names on Santa Cruz's resume, none bigger than Abner Mares who he tangled with on two occasions and Carl Frampton, the Northern Irishman who inflicted the only blemish on the Mexican's ring tally so far. There are those that thought that Santa Cruz had done enough to retain his WBA Super world featherweight title that night at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn in July 2016, Italian judge Guido Cavalleri scoring the fight a draw only to be overturned by 116-112 and 117-11 scores for Frampton.
The 3-weight world champion didn't have to wait too long for revenge. He took the title back from Frampton eight months later at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, winning by majority decision. If there is one thing that Santa Cruz could have done to cement his place in the featherweight division, it would have been to have faced the Irishman on a third-occasion because neither fighter managed to prove their supremacy over the other.
Miguel Flores (24-2-0, 12 Ko's), has had 2 comeback wins since suffering surprise back-to-back losses in 2017. When I say surprise losses, he had already made the step up to world-class and both fights would have logically be seen as warm-ups for an eventual title shot. However. he was dropped and stopped in 6 rounds by Dat Nguyen, a 35-year-old from Florida by way of Vietnam. 5 months later he retired in 5 rounds against Chris Avalos after suffering a cut left eye after flooring Avalos in the 3rd.
Before the losses Flores had impressed with some skilful boxing displays that had people talking about him as a fighter with a lot of potential, but whether he has found his level or not we will find out against Santa Cruz.
This should be a good fight for the fans. Both like to put pressure on their opponent but Flores does have some boxing skills as well and may elect to box at distance, but Santa Cruz makes anyone that doesn't want to mix it, stand and fight sooner or later.
Prediction: Santa Cruz to win a wide points decision.