The Curious Case of Leo Santa Cruz

003_Leo_Santa_Cruz Esther Lin
Photo by Esther Lin

Is something wrong with Leo Santa Cruz? Amnesia, perhaps? I’m seriously concerned for his health because only a medical condition can be to blame for the flippity floppity song and dance he’s been showing off lately.

A month ago at the WBC Convention in Las Vegas, our friends at Deporte Cubano USA caught up with the young WBC Super Bantamweight Champion. Leo was asked whether he would be interested in a fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux, to which he answered a resounding yes.



While this was exciting to hear, it wasn’t all that surprising given the fact that Santa Cruz repeatedly stated after his “exhibition” with Manuel Roman that he wanted to fight Rigondeaux. Santa Cruz made it clear that he wouldn’t stop pushing until the Rigondeaux fight was made because that is the fight the people wanted.

But then a curious thing happened.

Santa Cruz gave another interview at that same convention—but this time it was with Fight Hub TV. Santa Cruz went totally in the opposite direction, claiming fight fans don’t like Rigondeaux’s style.

“Guillermo Rigondeaux, people, they don’t like his style, so I don’t think he’s going to make an interesting fight for the fans. I wanna give a great show and a great fight for the fans. I think against Mares it’s more likely.” – Leo Santa Cruz

It’s frustrating that Santa Cruz is now acting more like a promoter than a fighter. Why all of the sudden is Rigondeaux not a fight that the fans want to see?

In the interview with Fight Hub TV, Santa Cruz repeatedly makes mention of what “they” keep telling him. Perhaps after giving Deporte Cubano USA a candid answer, “they” told him to chill.

Santa Cruz has been a fan favorite for a couple of years for multiple reasons. Not only does he have a fun-to-watch Mexican style in the ring, but he also likes to stay active–he fought eight times between January 2012 and December 2013. The cherry on top is his demeanor and attitude outside of the ring. He’s just a genuinely nice guy.

A potential fight between Santa Cruz and Abner Mares is sure to excite fans, but what of the WBO and WBA champion, Rigondeaux? Will he continue to be avoided?

After suffering two knockdowns in his last bout–which was an exciting affair–opponents may be enticed to give it a go against the Cuban slickster. But, even if it does happen, it won’t be until half of the year is already over.

One thing that is becoming clearer each and every day is that Nonito Donaire is cut from a different cloth. He should be commended for having the balls to actually fight Rigondeaux. Rigondeaux was even lesser known back when Nonito fought him, but the “Filipino Flash” wanted to take on a serious challenge, something nobody else around 122 pounds seems to want to do these days.

The more Manuel Roman-type fights that Santa Cruz starts to take, the less people will want to see him fight. And although fans have stuck by him thus far, don’t get it twisted, they will flip on him in an instant. Danny Garcia got cherried to death online in 2014 for taking on one over-matched opponent, Santa Cruz is going two for two with Jesus Ruiz on January 17.

Who knows what will happen by the end of 2015. Maybe Mares beats Santa Cruz and then he becomes the next fighter looking for a Rigondeaux escape clause. Or who knows, maybe he’ll surprise everyone and do what guys are supposed to do in this profession, fight the best.


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