LAS VEGAS – WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz scored a near-shutout of Cristian Mijares in a dominating 12-round unanimous decision (119-109, 120-108 twice) in Saturday’s co-feature. Photos by Kevork Djanseziian/Ed Mullholland/Golden Boy.
The two-division champion Santa Cruz put on a brilliant performance in his second successful 122-pound title defense, suffocating his opponent with more than 1,000 punches in what seemed like target practice against the former world champ. Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KOs) showcased a tremendously effective uppercut, pressing forward throughout the fight despite a deep gash above his right eye that was caused by an accidental clash of heads.
“This is my dream come true,” Santa Cruz said. “Mijares is a great boxer, but I came here to do what I had to do to beat him. Of course he’s very experienced and we had to be 100 percent. We practiced with lefties so we could be ready for everything.
“The blood was going to my eyes sometimes but it didn’t bother me. If Carl Frampton is next, I want him next. I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me.”
Mijares (49-8-2, 24 KOs) admitted he was frustrated by Santa Cruz’s consistent pressure.
“I did my job. It was difficult for me but I did everything I could,” Mijares said. “It was difficult because of Leo’s reach. He threw a lot of punches but he never hurt me.”
Jorge Linares (36-3, 23 KOs) and Nihito Arakawa (24-4-1, 16 KOs) put on a show in the second bout of the PPV, exchanging almost 1,200 punches in 10 brutal rounds as Linares won a hard-fought unanimous decision victory scored 98-92 and 100-90 twice.
Both fighters overcame cuts, but Linares’ combinations were the difference. He repeatedly landed punishing shots with ease against his Japanese opponent to record his fifth straight victory.
“I knew that Arakawa could take a punch going into the fight,” Linares said. “I hurt my right hand in the fourth round and that’s why I relied so heavily on my left. I want to fight for the title as soon as [WBC Lightweight World Champion] Omar Figueroa Jr. is ready.”
Arakawa, who has quickly made a name for himself to boxing fans in the U.S. with his aggressive and relentless approach to fighting, knew he didn’t do enough to earn the victory in just his second fight stateside.
“I’m okay, but I’m disappointed I didn’t win,” Arakawa said. “I knew I wasn’t winning, but I tried to fight as best I could. I couldn’t make it happen. Linares is very good and very strong.”
In a spectacular opening bout of the pay-per-view telecast, late replacement Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson recorded an impressive unanimous decision victory over Ricardo “Dinamita” Alvarez (97-91, 95-93 twice) after taking the bout on less than one week’s notice.
The all-action match featured little defense as the Mexican brawlers exchanged power shots for 10 rounds.
“In the first round I knew I hurt him and I knew I had sufficient power at 135 pounds,” Thompson said. “I’m very excited about this because I was training for another fight and I took this fight on one week’s notice and I was able to counter him effectively.”
Thompson (29-3, 26 KOs) knocked down Alvarez (23-3-3, 13 KOs) for the first time in his career in the third round and scored another knockdown in the eighth round with a thundering overhand right.
“I’m going to talk to my team to see if I should stay at 135 pounds,” Alvarez said. “I threw punches like I normally do, but the power wasn’t there.”