MGM Grand, Las Vegas - Leo "El Terremoto" Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) became a four-division world champion by capturing the WBA Super Featherweight with a unanimous decision over Miguel Flores (24-3, 12 KOs).
"Winning this title means the world to me," said Santa Cruz. "This is all for the fans who support me. I didn't feel myself today and didn't perform the way I wanted to. I'm going to get back in the gym and get a big fight in 2020."
The action began to heat up in round three, as Santa Cruz began to find a home for his straight right hand that would help him control much of the remainder of the fight. Flores adjusted and used more movement to try to counteract Santa Cruz's aggression and also focused on countering those right hands with body shots.
"I'm glad I got the victory," said Santa Cruz. "Miguel is a good fighter, he gave me a tough fight and he proved he's not a pushover. We put on a great battle."
"It was a good fight and I showed I belong at this level," said Flores. "I just went 12 rounds with Leo Santa Cruz. It's not an accomplishment in itself but I slowed down his pace. Like I said before, it's not only about throwing punches, but it's about ring IQ and I showed I have it."
Despite Flores' tactics, Santa Cruz was able to stay in control and frustrate his opponent. Flores was deducted a point by referee Tony Weeks in round eight due to excessive holding during the many exchanges.
Santa Cruz held the edge in punches landed at 253 to 222, while Flores threw more punches than Santa Cruz by a tally of 1024 to 907.
"It was a close fight and I didn't think he was landing too much," said Flores. "He was busy but he wasn't landing too many shots. I landed cleaner harder shots but he was just busier."
Flores continued to try to rough up Santa Cruz and accidentally hit him with a headbutt in the ninth round that opened up a cut over Santa Cruz's left eye. The four-division champion was able to weather that cut and finished strong on his way to a unanimous decision by scores of 115-112 and 117-110 twice. Watch highlights HERE.
"I want to stay at 130," said Santa Cruz. "We want the big fights in 2020. I want Gervonta Davis or Gary Russell Jr. I want to show the world I'm not scared of anybody."