PHOTO CREDIT: Craig Bennett – Hoganphotos/SHOWTIME
CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. – Undefeated WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Leo “Terremoto” Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KOs) of Los Angeles participated in a jam-packed open media workout Thursday at Who’s Next Boxing Academy as he continues to prepare for his title defense against Mexico’s Jesus “Estrella” Ruiz (33-5-5, 22 KOs) on Saturday, Jan. 17, live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The 12-round, 122-pound world title fight will serve as the co-feature of a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING tripleheader highlighted by the eagerly awaited heavy-duty showdown between WBC Heavyweight World Champion Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne(24-1-1, 21 KOs), a Haitian native fighting out of Las Vegas, and unbeaten knockout specialist Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Ala.
In the opening bout of the Jan. 17 telecast, promising world-ranked and undefeated super lightweight Amir “Young Master” Imam (15-0, 13 KOs), of Albany N.Y. will face hard-hitting Fidel “The Atrisco Kid” Maldonado Jr. (19-2, 16 KOs) of Albuquerque N.M., in a 10-round match.
Tickets for an event co-promoted by Don King Productions and Golden Boy Promotionsare on sale and priced at $500, $350, $250, $125 and $50, not including applicable service charges and taxes. Tickets are limited to eight (8) per person with a limit of four (4) at the $50 price range. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.
Santa Cruz worked out for 45 minutes on Thursday. He shadow-boxed, hit the mitts, did calisthenics, jumped rope and did stretching exercises as live Norteno music blared in the background.
Below is what the champion Santa Cruz, his father/trainer Jose Santa Cruz and his brother/co-trainer Antonio Santa Cruz said at the workout:
LEO SANTA CRUZ, WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion
“Right now I am focused on this fight. I want to get this fight over with and get the win. We trained really hard to get this fight. Ruiz is a great fighter, a tough fighter. I think he has fought for a world title already. I know he always comes prepared to win and give a great show.
“Ruiz has fought good fighters and shown that he has talent and determination. I don’t take him lightly or any other fighter. Sometimes the fighters they say are lazier are the ones that give you a tougher fight and a loss.
“I feel bad for all the people talking, but if they were in my shoes they would understand. I want the Rigondeaux fight, but the promoters have not come to an agreement. If it was up to me, I would fight him whenever. I am tired of people telling me that I am scared. I am looking for that fight as soon as possible, he is not invisible. I think I have a chance to beat him. I know he is a tough fighter, but that’s what we are here for, to fight the best.
“We are going to keep pushing for a fight with Abner Mares or Rigondeaux, have the promoters make that fight as soon as possible, so all the fans can be happy.
“I think if I can fight Mares, it will be a big pay-per-view event here at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
“Having my father as my trainer is the best for us. We do get into arguments, but they never last too long. Maybe one day we will get mad at each other, but then we talk as if nothing happened. I always try and concentrate and listen to him the best I can. He is the one I have always worked best with. There is more communication with him.
“My family is small so we always went into the gym together; we live in the same house together. We have always been together. We go fishing together, bowling, everything.
“I think because of my family support and my friends I have been able to stay calm and patient. I think of all the positive things and what I want to do to give a better fight.”
JOSE SANTA CRUZ, Father and Lead Trainer
“All of Leo’s fights are always different. He never does the same thing over again. When it comes to training, there are small details we change, but nothing major. We might do weightlifting this camp, and not do weightlifting last camp, just stuff like that.
“Leo and I have an understanding that whoever we are fighting, we train for 100 percent all the time. The fact he is not fighting Mares or Rigondeaux, those are down the road and will happen. A fight with Rigondeaux does not excite me though because I know when he feels pressure or the heat, he is going to grab hold or run. I am not interested in fighting him. I would like to fight Mares or whoever else though, no problem. I do not like Rigondeaux’s style and neither does the public. The only ones who want that fight are the Rigondeaux camp and his fans.
“Leo is a great kid; he respects me, looks up to me and listens to me. That is why I am here training him. This is what Leo wants. I know there are better trainers than me out there, but this is what Leo likes and what he wants and it has been working out.
“I am not surprised my sons are fighters. I knew they would all be good great fighters. What I am surprised about is how the fans and the public have received the Santa Cruz family and especially the way they appreciate Leo.
“Since day one, when Leo started training at 8-years-old, the people and I saw that Leo had what it took. He was already beating little kids in the gym. I knew he would be something special. I knew that more about Leo than any of this other brothers. Leo is known for his volume punching but he is a good technical fighter too.”
ANTONIO SANTA CRUZ, Brother and Co-Trainer
“There is no difference in Leo’s training for this fight. He always trains the same way. He trains very hard. We will teach him more combinations, but that is really it.
“I have been an assistant trainer for almost three years. My father has been Leo’s main trainer since the beginning.
“My father got my brothers and me into fighting. When he first came to the United States, he went to a boxing gym and from there, he started to like it. He used to say that as soon as he had a kid, ‘I am going to put him in boxing.’ I’m the oldest, so he put me into boxing first.
“I am not surprised at Leo’s success, but very happy.,We have a good working relationship; he is very good at listening to me and taking orders.”