Unbeaten British star Scott Quigg has laid down the gauntlet to Leo Santa Cruz in the hope of making yet another mouthwatering collision at 122 pounds. With Carl Frampton facing Kiko Martinez for the IBF title, on Sept. 6, Quigg went out of his way to contact RingTV.com in the hope of luring the WBC title holder to action.
“The fight I wanted next was Frampton, Martinez or Leo Santa Cruz,” said Quigg, who holds the regular WBA title (Note: THE RING only recognizes Guillermo Rigondeaux). “Frampton and Martinez are now scheduled to have a rematch which leaves Santa Cruz who, like me, has no fixed date so the match-up is ideal for both of us.
“I’m looking to be back out in September and Santa Cruz has mentioned me in the past. This is the one I’ve always wanted and I’m 100 percent convinced that I’ll beat him. I’ve watched Santa Cruz for many years, ever since he was a bantamweight, and I couldn’t be more confident of victory.”
Santa Cruz, THE RING’s No. 2-rated junior featherweight, is a two-weight world titleholder with an unbeaten record of 27-0 (15 knockouts). He is high quality and would be, by far, the toughest test of Quigg’s seven year career. Still, despite the step up in class, the 25 year old welcomes the bout with open arms.
“I like fighters who come at me and I’m a tall junior featherweight, just like him,” Quigg said. “I have no problems against opponents who are as tall as me and we saw that against Tshifhiwa Munyai, who I knocked out in two rounds. Stylistically, Santa Cruz and I match up well and this will be a great fight for the fans.
“With that said, he’s never taken on a really big junior featherweight; a big fighter, capable of testing him to the limit. Victor Terrazas is the only real 122 pounder that he’s faced, but Terrazas is extremely short for the weight. Santa Cruz is the fight I want, and the sooner the better.”
Quigg, THE RING’s No. 4-rated 122 pounder, is certainly confident and with a record of 28-0-2 (21 KOs) he has every right to be. The Bury man claimed a draw against Yoandris Salinas, in October of last year, but the consensus was that he deserved the nod and, on peak form, he is an excellent boxer with sharp skills.
When asked to break down Santa Cruz, Quigg gave praise but also disclosed flaws.
“His work rate is his main attribute, but he doesn’t waste punches,” said Quigg, who is trained by celebrated coach, Joe Gallagher. “I’ve seen opponents have success, but they can’t follow up and eventually break under the pressure. Santa Cruz is accurate but I’d be smart, pick my moments and use feints and angles. It’s called ring generalship, choosing where to be and where not to be.
“You need to keep Santa Cruz guessing. If he feels he can get away with applying constant pressure then that’s what he’ll do, but if you make him stop and think then the pattern of the fight will change. Also, I can back him up and how often have we seen Santa Cruz on the back foot?”
Not only does Quigg want the fight, he is prepared to venture across the Atlantic in order to make it happen. Popular at home, the British ace submitted to the fact that an established champion like Santa Cruz is not going to agree terms for a showdown in the UK.
“Santa Cruz doesn’t need to come over to Britain and that’s just reality,” said Quigg. “The fight would have to happen in America, which doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’ve always wanted to fight in the U.S. and to be honest, I’d fight him anywhere. I’m willing to take him on in his own back garden.”
One champion who is willing to travel is Martinez, who defends his IBF strap against Frampton in Belfast. A bout between Quigg and Frampton is potential gold dust in the UK, but is it threatened by this world title rematch?
“I think it’s a tougher fight for Frampton this time,” said Quigg, after mulling the subject. “Martinez has the momentum and has been in with superior opposition, so the second fight is a 50/50 affair in my opinion. I also think Martinez has done all the improving, since Frampton beat him last year.
“Even in Belfast I can envisage an upset, because the location is irrelevant. If Martinez knocks Frampton out, it doesn’t matter what city they’re in. I don’t want to see that happen, because it messes up a future fight with Carl, but I honestly think we’ll see a completely different Kiko Martinez this time around.”
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing