By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - WBC super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (27-1, 15KOs) landed everything but the kitchen sink on mandatory challenger Cristian Mijares (49-7-2, 24KOs) to win a twelve round unanimous decision. The scores were 119-109, 120-108, 120-108.
Santa Cruz was controlling the action with ease in the first three rounds. In the fourth, a clash of heads opened up a cut above the right eye of Santa Cruz. The sight of blood boosted Mijares' courage and he tried to fight, toe to toe, with Santa Cruz. He was hurt bad to the body for his trouble, but battled back to the bell.
Santa Cruz was breaking Mijares down, round by round, and the veteran had no answers for the younger, more active hitter. Mijares was taking a beating, with Santa Cruz unable to finish him off. Mijares was able to cushion many of the punches with his gloves and rolled with many others. He was always on the move and often forced Santa Cruz to chase him around the ring.