Fan favorite Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-17 KO’s) will be making his return to the ring and defending his WBA featherweight world title this Saturday against former super bantamweight world champion Kiko Martinez (35-6 26 KO’s). The bout will be televised live on Showtime at 10pm ET/7pm PT and will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim California.
Leo Santa Cruz has been considered to be an exciting fighter to watch by fans and media since he first turned professional in 2006. In many ways, he is the typical Mexican fighter and loves to come forward and throw punches in bunches. He is a volume puncher that looks to wear his opponents down but he also has decent fighting IQ and some underrated boxing skills to go along with it. He also has decent size for a featherweight standing at 5’7 ½ in height and possessing a 69-inch reach. His biggest wins are against Cristian Mijares and Abner Mares, one fighter was passed his best and the other was fighting at a weight not properly suited for him.
My problem with Leo Santa Cruz is, he has been fighting naturally smaller fighters since the beginning of his career and this upcoming fight with Martinez is no different. Martinez is a former champion at 122lbs who was thinking about moving down to 118lbs and is now being brought up to 126lbs so Santa Cruz can beat up on him. This has been the formula for his career since the beginning and as a fan, I don’t like it at all. Even his biggest win against Mares was against a fighter who’s best work was done at 118lbs and got knocked out by Jhonny Gonzalez at 126lbs, before facing Santa Cruz at the very same weight. The way his career is being guided only allows me to have a certain amount of interest in it, from a fans perspective.
Kiko Martinez, on the other hand, stands at 5’5″ in height and possesses a 66-inch reach. He also usually brings an exciting come forward style and carries decent punching power for a super bantamweight. His biggest wins come against Jhonatan Romero, Jeffrey Mathebula and Hozumi Hasegawa. However, after suffering a decision loss to Carl Frampton and a TKO loss to Scott Quigg in July of last year, Martinez was in the process of moving down to the bantamweight division where he could make better use of his physicality. However, a WBA title shot in the featherweight division and a Leo Santa Cruz paycheck proved to be too good of a deal for the Spaniard to turn down. I expect this fight to be a relatively fun one to watch but the outcome being predictable. I expect Santa Cruz to win with relative ease.