The Mexican slugger has won world titles at both Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight, tallying up a string of title defences.
Yet with a division full of exciting names, you can see why the boxing world raised their eyebrows when his opponent was announced, the relatively unknown Manuel “Suavecito” Roman.
Roman is a 26-year-old Mexican who has fought at the Bantamweight limit his entire decade-long career.
His most notable bouts came against unbeaten American, Randy Caballero, whom he lost to on points for the WBO NABO Bantamweight title and a win against John Amuzu for the vacant USA California state Bantamweight title.
It is clear that Roman has never fought someone of Santa Cruz’s caliber, but as long as he is in the ring, he has a shot at dethroning the champion. Still, there is a slight suspicion that even though Roman has never been knocked out, it is highly likely that come Sunday morning that will have changed.
In contrast to his counterpart, Santa Cruz has already raced to becoming a two-weight world champion with virtual ease. We have seen this Mexican workhorse overwhelm the likes of Vusi Malinga, Victor Terrazas and Cesar Seda with his relentless punch volumes, handing each one a defeat with no signs of endangering his own unbeaten record.
It does seem Santa Cruz is sculptured for success and with the might of super-power promoter Golden Boy behind him, the world is his oyster.
However, a mismatch never sells. Therefore, come Saturday night the world will be expecting Santa Cruz to win and do so emphatically.
Obviously the assumption is that the reigning WBC champion will be victorious on the night, forcing the inevitable talk of the mouth-watering unification bouts with the likes of Carl Frampton, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Scott Quigg to resurface.
Hopefully after Saturday night, the wheels can be finally set in motion that will see all the champions at Super Bantamweight face off because it’s exactly what the boxing faithful are dying to see.
Header photo by Esther Lin