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Cruz Control: Leo Santa Cruz Stops Briceno In 11

By Jake Donovan

Red hot prospect Leo Santa Cruz scored his seventh straight knockout on Saturday evening, turning back the challenge of former title challenger Evert Briceno in their Televisa-televised main event live from the International Center in Mazatlan, Mexico.

It was hardly an easy night’s work for the standout bantamweight prospect, who had to work hard in order to preserve his undefeated record but eventually surged ahead in the second half of the bout.

Santa Cruz was able to make his presence felt with each passing round, thanks in large part to a dedicated body attack that slowly began to break down Briceno.

Even while on the business end of a boxing lesson, Briceno still found time to make his presence felt. While never quite getting the better of any given exchange, the Nicaraguan – now living in Mexico – almost always had a response any time Santa Cruz threatened to permanently take over during the first half of the fight.

Briceno’s best moments came when action was in center ring, but those occasions didn’t come nearly often enough. Santa Cruz’ best work came when the two fought along the ropes, which was where the undefeated Mexican was often able to push the action.

Fatigue began to set in for Briceno during the second half of the bout, at which point Santa Cruz decided to kick it into overdrive in search of an early ending. Body shots and combinations upstairs began to take their toll on Briceno, who was in strict defensive mode as it went later into the fight.

Realizing his opponent had no fight left in him, Santa Cruz turned predator once the bout hit the championship rounds. His aggression paid off in dividends, flooring Briceno approximately one minute into the 11th round.

The referee began his count and allowed Briceno to rise to his feet, but didn’t care for the body language exhibited and opted to stop the contest without another punch being thrown.

The official time was 1:01 of the 11th round.

Santa Cruz improves to 17-0 (9KO) with the win, racking up his seventh straight knockout in a streak that dates back nearly two years. The 22-year old entered the bout on the heels of a fifth round stoppage of former titlist Jose Lopez.

Lasting the full twelve rounds was the only form of victory Briceno sought to enjoy, though fell about five minutes short of that mark. The 33-year old heads home with a record of 33-7-1 (26KO).

UNDERCARD

Mario Rodriguez posted his second straight strong showing against an undefeated opponent, scoring an shockingly wide points win over strawweight prospect Manuel Jimenez on Saturday evening.

Scores were 119-108 (twice) and 120-107 in their co-feature.

Rodriguez atoned for his height and reach disadvantage with constant pressure, smothering Jimenez all night and never once slowing down. Jimenez had a hard time adjusting, though got in plenty of licks on his own.
 
The greatest signs of disaster for Jimenez came in the fifth. A cut over his left eye caused time to be called midway through the round, only for the referee and doctor to agree that it wasn’t severe enough to stop the fight. Moments later, Jimenez found himself on the deck for the first time in his career.

Rodriguez never eased up off of the gas, sensing a Jimenez rally was brewing and made him work for it every step of the way.

Jimenez began to dial in during the championship rounds, but was already way too far in the hole, not to mention that Rodriguez was still matching him punch-for-punch.

Rodriguez improves to 11-6-1 (7KO) with the win, his first since last summer, although he is coming off of a 12-round draw versus undefeated Pedro Guevera.

Jimenez falls for the first time as a pro as his record dips to 11-1-1 (5KO)

The show was presented by Golden Boy Promotions, airing live on Televisa and also streaming live (and crystal clear) on AT&T U-verse’s website.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by onechance87 on 07-31-2011

cruz looking good.Love how he goes to the body.

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