It was Leo Santa Cruz’s second fight at featherweight tonight in the main event of ShowTime Championship Boxing, but it was his first time defending his WBA featherweight title and, lucky for him, he drew a junior featherweight in Kiko Martinez. Santa Cruz was the fighter with the advantage in experience at the weight class, but he was also benefitting from an Anaheim, California crowd in favor of cheering his every move at the Honda Center.
Santa Cruz took full advantage as he sent Martinez to the canvas twice in the first round, both times off the right hand. Martinez was able to make it to his feet both times, and he was never in any real danger of being stop. In fact, given the nature of the first round, you could actually credit Martinez with not falling any deeper into trouble.
The second round completely changed the momentum, at least briefly, in the fight, and Martinez was able to showcase offense. Martinez caught Santa Cruz with a shot and Santa Cruz hit the floor. However, the referee ruled it a slip. That didn’t stop Martinez from a continued effort and he kept Santa Cruz on his toes.
Santa Cruz was able to take back the momentum in the fight, but he was starting to learn that Martinez’s chin could withstand the heavier fighter’s punishment. Santa Cruz was landing flush on Martinez’s chin, but Martinez was very capable of dusting the punches off.
The fight slowed down for a bit, but when they decided to make a show things got interesting. There were a few firefights, but mostly it was exciting moments preceded by offense on the Santa Cruz side while Martinez did everything possible not to falter.
Then, in the 5th round, Santa Cruz turned up the heat and Kiko found himself in a bad position. Santa Cruz unleashed a barrage of punches that led to the referee stepping in and waving off the fight.
It was a solid fight and Santa Cruz deserves credit for beating a very game junior featherweight with a lightweight’s chin.