SANTA CRUZ IN NEED OF BIG NAME OPPONENT AFTER MARTINEZ

Albert Baker

Leo Santa Cruz  (31-0-1 17KO’s) “El Terremoto” makes his return to the ring this Saturday against Kiko Martinez (35-6 26KO’s) of Spain in a matchup of come forward fighters that should produce a good action battle while it lasts at the Honda Center in Anaheim California.

Santa Cruz has taken a bit of an image beating for the fight with Martinez after fans had hoped he would capitalize on his exciting majority decision victory over Los Angeles rival and fellow Mexican, Abner Mares with a matchup against a fellow PBC elite level opponent such as Lee Selby or Gary Russel Jr.

But, this is the boxing business.

 In today’s laboratory of the sweet science each action doesn’t necessarily create an equal and opposite reaction, and the frustration of Santa Cruz’s development into a star (some deem undeserving) has been like eating frosted flakes with no milk. 

You crave them, they’re sweet and tasty but the gravel like dryness is unappealing until topped with ice cold milk.

Let’s flashback to September 2012 when Santa Cruz made Eric Morel quit on his stool.It was a pivotal moment as Santa Cruz was a young star on the rise, and would go on to headline the first network televised boxing card in decades on CBS for then promoter GoldenBoy as it was chaired by former CEO Richard Schaefer.

Santa Cruz was primed for big matchups against the best of the 122lb. division and he dispatched the good of the division with relative ease. Then the floor fell out of the GoldenBoy, Schaefer, and Al Haymon relationship.

Santa Cruz would go on to fight an insurance salesman on the undercard of the biggest fight of the new millenium, and not win spectacularly, drawing the ire and cherry emoji’s of once supportive fans.

Nevertheless, the die hard Mexican-American boxing fans that have kept boxing afloat still stood behind the smiling Santa Cruz. The want to see him matchup against Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nonito Donaire was still strong, but realism kicked in to remind us that the political landscape of boxing wouldn’t allow that to happen.

A move to 126lbs. promised to place the Mexican earthquake into more intriguing matchups that the politics of boxing would allow. Gary Russel Jr., who had destroyed Jhonny Gonzalez, Lee Selby deafeated the Mexican Russian for the IBF title, and Gonzalez knockout victim Abner Mares were all available.

The powers that be matched Santa Cruz with Mares and promoted the fight masterfully to the massive hispanic audience in Los Angeles as the “Battle for Los Angeles” to a packed Staples Center. The fight produce the in your face action that fans were expecting.

Then it happened again, rather than capitalize on the star building momentum from the Mares victory another ho-hum matchup that reduces Santa Cruz’s credibility if he does anything less than spectacularly knock out Martinez.

Martinez will have popular trainer Robert Garcia working his corner as trainer Gaby Sarmiento experienced Visa issues, further complicating Martinez’s path to victory.

Kiko Martinez isn’t the milk for the Santa Cruz breakfast cereal. There is no satisfaction in watching Santa Cruz defeat Martinez, because he is supposed to win. Fighting only twice a year against this level of competition is damaging to the reputation of the 27 year old from Michoacan Mexico.