LAS VEGAS – Leo Santa Cruz undoubtedly defeated Miguel Flores on Saturday night, just not in the fashion the lopsided odds suggested.

Santa Cruz, who went off as a 40-1 favorite at MGM Grand’s sports book, instead out-worked Flores in what amounted to a monotonous 12-round, 130-pound title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena. There weren’t any knockdowns in their unremarkable encounter, though Santa Cruz clearly landed the more effective punches on the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz undercard.

Each judge – Tim Cheatham (115-112), Glenn Feldman (117-110) and Julie Lederman (117-110) – scored their fight for Santa Cruz.

The 31-year-old Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs), of Rosemead, California, became a world champion in a fourth weight class by beating Houston’s Flores (24-3, 12 KOs). The former bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight champion captured the WBA “super” 130-pound title Gervonta Davis vacated to move up to the 135-pound division.

Santa Cruz told before his victory Saturday night, though, that he feels he must beat Andrew Cancio to become the WBA’s legitimate champion at 130 pounds.

Cancio was scheduled to defend his WBA world super featherweight title against mandatory challenger Rene Alvarado on Saturday night in Indio, California. The Cancio-Alvarado bout hadn’t begun when this story was posted.

An accidental clash of heads opened a cut around Santa Cruz’s left eye early in the 10th round. Santa Cruz wiped blood away from his left eye for the rest of the round and tried to land a fight-altering shot on Flores.

Flores landed a low left hand that caused a brief break in the action with 1:55 to go in the ninth round.

Weeks warned Flores for head-butting Santa Cruz early in the sixth round. He deducted a point from Flores in the eighth round for leading with his head.

Through the first five rounds, Flores held his own against the heavily favored Santa Cruz. Flores mostly dealt well with Santa Cruz’s pressure and kept Santa Cruz from throwing punches at his usual rate of activity.

Santa Cruz and Flores were supposed to fight for Santa Cruz’s WBA “super” 126-pound crown February 16 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Flores withdrew from that bout due to an ankle injury. Santa Cruz instead dominated replacement Rafael Rivera (27-4-2, 18 KOs) on his way to winning a 12-round unanimous decision. 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.