Mexican featherweight boxer Leo Santa Cruz looked unbeatable entering his fight with Carl Frampton last July at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. He had won 31 consecutive fights to that point collecting multiple world titles along the way. His run of invincibility ended with Frampton winning by majority decision to wrest the WBA Super World Featherweight title away from Santa Cruz.
Now, this Saturday, Santa Cruz will get a shot at regaining his belt when he squares off with Frampton in a rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. For Santa Cruz, Vegas is familiar surroundings having fought in Sin City many times in his career. The boxer feels more than comfortable there.
“I’ve fought here six times already and I feel like this is my second hometown,” said featherweight boxer Leo Santa Cruz on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench show. “I have a lot of fans here and people that have supported me and I feel great here. I know I have a hard fight ahead of me and everything but we’ve come really prepared to get a victory this time.”
Ferrall was stunned by the outcome of the first fight between the two boxers because he thought that Santa Cruz’s reach advantage of seven inches (69″ to Frampton’s 62″) would allow him to take care of business. Instead, Frampton was able to use his speed and footwork to dance around and away from Santa Cruz while landing counter-punches. For Santa Cruz, all he could think about following the first fight was getting a rematch.
“When I heard the decision I was in shock and I was upset with myself because I felt like I let a lot of people down,” said Santa Cruz. “I wish I could have taken the time back and do everything differently and try to do the perfect fight to beat him but it’s already happened. The only thing after that fight that was in my head was the rematch and I said I want the rematch. I practiced everything differently and the things I did wrong and this time I’m going to try to use my distance and my reach and not fight his fight. Hopefully in the rematch we can do all of that.”
“It’s hard to fight differently because my style is to go forward, throwing a lot of punches and putting pressure like all Mexican fighters do,” said Santa Cruz. “As a fan, people love fighters that go forward, making it a war and going toe-to-toe. But, sometimes like I said, you have to be smart and think of yourself and do the smart fight in order to win the fight. That’s what I’m going to go out there to do.”
Now that he’s seen what Frampton can do, Santa Cruz says he has adjusted his strategy coming into the rematch. The thing that caught him off-guard in the first fight was Frampton’s footwork, but this time around he says he knows what he needs to do in order to counter that.
“It was almost everything that I expected, I knew Frampton was a great fighter he has great footwork and everything, good combinations, but the one thing that surprised me was his footwork,” said Santa Cruz. “He was smart, very smart, I think he had been studying me for awhile because he knew how I was going to fight him. So that’s what surprised me and what he did really well was every time that I would lunge in he waited for me and took a step back and was counter-punching me. Me, like any fighter, I wasn’t even thinking about that. I just went in there trying to beat him up and I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing wrong. But, now I saw the video and I know what I have to do is not lunge in. I have to be patient, be smart, give him a one-two and not stay there. Right away I need to move away and use my reach because I know if I use if I use my reach it’s going to be harder for him to catch me.”
The highly anticipated rematch between these two fighters is set to air on Showtime this Saturday beginning at 10 p.m.