By David P. Greisman
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas - It wasn’t easy, but wins won’t always be. Nevertheless, junior featherweight Leo Santa Cruz stepped into the ring with a capable, tricky opponent in Cesar Seda and left the ring with a unanimous decision victory.
The scores were 116-111, 115-112 and 117-110 for Santa Cruz — eight rounds to four, seven rounds to five, and nine rounds to three, with an extra point taken from Seda for a knockdown scored in the fifth round.
“The southpaw style [of Seda] made for a difficult fight,” Santa Cruz said afterward. “I thought I won the fight. I wanted to give the fans in San Antonio a better fight than I gave tonight.”
Both men targeted body shots throughout the night — CompuBox credited Santa Cruz with landing 76 and saw Seda landing 63. It was a good strategy for Santa Cruz, who often responded to Seda’s body attack, digging into a smaller man and attempting to take the wind out of a capable mover. For Seda, meanwhile, it was wise to try to take some of the snap out of Santa Cruz’s shots.
Santa Cruz drove Seda back to the ropes briefly in the third round, attempting a right hand that Seda avoided, and then following with a left that essentially came out as a cross.
In the fourth, Seda switched up his strategy, jumping in with one-two combinations and then moving away. In the fifth round, Seda threw a left, and Santa Cruz responded with a right hand to the body and a right hand upstairs. Seda stumbled backward and fell to the canvas, though it appeared as if his foot had gotten caught up with Santa Cruz’s.
“The knockdown wasn’t a knockdown,” Seda said afterward. “Our feet got tangled up.”
Seda continued to change his approaches, requiring Santa Cruz to adjust in case he wanted to win. Seda would move to Santa Cruz’s left, or he’d pop in and out, or he’d stand in front of Santa Cruz. In the end, it was Santa Cruz’s activity and power punching that helped him win rounds on the judges’ cards.
Santa Cruz was credited with going 297 of 829, landing 36 percent of his total punches. Of those, he was 197 of 454 with power shots, a 43 percent connect rate. Seda, meanwhile, was 170 of 649, a 26 percent connect rate, including 135 of 380 with his power shots, or 36 percent.
Seda didn’t agree with the judges, who gave him just his second pro loss.
“I thought I won the fight, and the decision is a robbery,” Seda said afterward.
Seda, 27, of Puerto Rico, is now 25-2 (17 KOs). His only other defeat came in 2011, a decision against 115-pound titleholder Omar Narvaez.
Santa Cruz, a 25-year-old originally from Huetamo, Mexico, and now calling Los Angeles his home, moves to 26-0-1 (15 KOs). He won a bantamweight title in June 2012 and defended it three times that year before moving up to 122 pounds in 2013. He debuted in the division with a technical knockout over Alexander Munoz oin May, then picked up a world title in August with a knockout of Victor Terrazas
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]