By Jake Donovan
Give credit to Leo Santa Cruz for taking full advantage of a golden opportunity.
The unbeaten bantamweight titlist made a major statement in becoming the first to stop Eric Morel, a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic squad and former flyweight titlist, in their Showtime-televised fight in September.
The win served as a breakthrough moment in his career, quite a statement considering his previous performance was a title winning effort over Vusi Malinga three months prior. His whirlwind attack against Malinga served as a rare bright spot on an otherwise forgettable quadruple header.
The stoppage against Morel managed to stand out on a night full of highlight reel moments.
“I've been hearing a lot about my last fight, how it was a great performance,” Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12KO) acknowledges. “That gives me more motivation to return to the gym and to train harder. I want to do even better so that I can hear even more of that.”
The California-based action fighter has yet another chance in 2012 to add to his growing fan base, as he faces Victor Zaleta on November 10 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The bout serves as the televised chief support to a super bantamweight showdown between Abner Mares and Anselmo Moreno, two more fighters on his radar.
For now, Santa Cruz is content with continuing to prove himself in an industry he lives and breathes.
“It’s an honor for me,” Santa Cruz says of the five-star reviews he’s received as of late. “It shows all of the hard work I’ve been doing. The hard work and sacrifices are paying off. That’s all I do. I train, I eat, I go home and I go back to the gym to train.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox