Saturday afternoon, boxing made it’s return to CBS in the form of a bantamweight title clash between the surging Leo Santa Cruz (23-0-1, 13 knockouts), and the fairly unknown Alberto Guevara (16-1, 6 knockouts). Understandably, Guevara would find himself going into the fight as a heavy betting underdog, but came out a legitimate threat in the bantamweight division.
At the opening bell of their twelve-round fight, both Guevara and Santa Cruz came out aggressive as they met in the center of the ring to trade blows. As the round progressed it became obvious that Guevara had done his homework on Santa Cruz. By executing a brilliant game plan of staying on the outside, Guevara forced Santa Cruz to lunge in with his punches and leave himself open. For the first time in what has seemed like career defined thus far by nothing short of dominance, Guevara was able to make Santa Cruz look uncomfortable in the ring.
This pattern would continue for the first six rounds of the fight as both would answer the bell aggressive, Guevara would revert to the game plan, andSanta Cruzwould continue in his attempts to stop the young fighter. Only difference came in the 6th round when Guevara would continue finding a home for a short uppercut that would consistently manage catchSanta Cruzoff-guard.
Unfortunately for Guevara, his inexperience in 12-round fights showed as exhaustion began to set in at the start of the 7th round. Santa Cruz continued to come out aggressive, as he began to set a pace in which Guevara just couldn’t keep up. Add in the fact that Santa Cruz finally began to really mix up his shots, and one could see that this fairy-tale was fixing to take a sour turn for Guevara.
From rounds eight to twelve, Guevara was able to offer little in the way of significant offense as Santa Cruz stalked him around the ring, all while throwing devastating shots to both the body and head. Aside from one, the judge’s scorecards reflected the story of this fight. All three judges awarded Leo Santa Cruz the Unanimous Decision on scores of (116-113), (118-110), (119-109).
After his fourth title fight in six months, Leo Santa Cruz has finally earned himself a vacation after competing in four title fights in six months. As for Guevara, expect to see more of him as he has proven that even at this relatively young stage of his career, he was able to hang with the best the division has to offer. In hind-sight it was a victory for both fighters, CBS, and most importantly, the fans.