IBF bantamweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz told reporters during a national conference call on Monday that he would welcome a unification bout with southpaw WBA counterpart Anselmo Moreno should he get beyond Saturday afternoon’s fight with Alberto Guevara in the main event of a CBS-televised show from the Los Angeles Sport Arena.
A 24-year-old Mexican-American from Lincoln Heights, Calif., Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13 knockouts) will make the third defense of the belt he won by split decision over Vusi Malinga in June.
Santa Cruz will face Guevara (16-0, 6 KOs) on a card that is to include 2012 U.S. Olympic team member and junior featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. after having scored fifth- and ninth-round knockouts over ex-beltholder Eric Morel and Victor Zaleta in September and last month, respectively.
Santa Cruz stopped Zaleta on the Showtime-televised main event which featured WBC junior featherweight beltholder Abner Mares scoring a unanimous decision over Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs).
Moreno was dropped during the fifth round by Mares, whose victory ended the loser’s 27-bout winning streak that had included 10 knockouts.
Moreno’s only previous loss, by four-round split-decision to Ricardo Molina in October of 2002, had been twice avenged via ninth-round stoppage and 10-round unanimous decision in January and August of 2005.
“If it [Moreno fight] happens, it happens. So why not?” said Santa Cruz, who stopped the now-retired Morel for the first time in his career, this, after Morel had gone distance in a 122-pound loss to Mares in April.
“If the people want it, and they ask for it, and they think that it’s a good fight, and the promoters and my manager say that it’s good, then, yeah, I’m ready to fight anybody.”
Tickets will be free for entry into the CBS broadcast, an event which marks the network’s first live boxing telecast since Bernard Hopkins defended his IBF middleweight title against Glen Johnson in 1997.
Santa Cruz said he was 9 years old in ’97, and that he has never seen a fight that was televised on regular network television.
RingTV.com: Are you handling the quick turnaround in fights well, being that you were in the ring just over a month ago?
LSC: Yeah. They even asked me. They told me that if I was ready and asked if I wanted to go back and fight, and I was like, “Yeah, I want to fight.” But they told me that it was up to me.
So, yeah, I decided to fight, because I want to finish the year strong, and after this one, I’m going to take a little rest. Hopefully, everything goes well on this one, and I’ll take some rest, and come back stronger for next year.
RingTV.com: Do you have any boxing idols?
LSC: Yeah. It was Julio Cesar Chavez before, when he was big, and, also, [former junior featherweight and featherweight titleholder] Oscar Larios too. They were my biggest ones.
RingTV.com: Is it important to score a knockout given that this is the first time boxing has been on network television in a while?
LSC: I want to go out there and finish the year strong and to get a knockout, so that the year can be good. I want to get my fans involved.
So this a chance for my fans to really get to know me. I’m getting great exposure, thanks to Golden Boy and to my manager and to all of my team.
LSC: I do imagine myself as that one day. I want to be like that. I want to have all of the fans screaming for me, and everything. Imagining things like that, it gives me, like, chills.
I feel really excited, and that gives me more motivation and strength to go into the gym so that, one day, I can become like them. Like Juan Manuel Marquez and the true Mexican champions like that.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Gene Blevins, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org