Almost all boxers fight for their families.
Leo Santa Cruz is even more motivated than usual to do that Saturday night in San Antonio. The four-division champion wants to pull off an upset versus Gervonta Davis first and foremost for his dad.
Jose Santa Cruz, who has trained his son since he was a kid, has been confined to a wheelchair during Leo’s training sessions for the Davis fight. Already a cancer survivor, Jose Santa Cruz almost died from COVID-19 over the summer (https://www.boxingscene.com/santa-cruz-father-nearly-died-from-covid-19-back-gym-helping-train-son--152334).
The WBA “super” 130-pound champion’s father spent more than a month in a hospital in June and July. He has recovered from the coronavirus to the point where he can help Leo and Antonio Santa Cruz, Leo’s brother and co-trainer, strategize for a difficult fight Davis is listed as approximately a 6-1 favorite to win at Alamodome (Showtime Pay-Per-View; $74.99).
“I’m fighting this fight for my family, for my dad,” Leo Santa Cruz stated during the most recent episode of Showtime’s “ALL ACCESS: Davis vs. Santa Cruz.”
Showtime aired footage of Jose Santa Cruz in the gym and at home working with his son during recent weeks.
“My dad means the world to me,” Leo Santa Cruz said. “Everything I have is thanks to him because he pushed me every day.”
Before Santa Cruz’s remarkably resilient dad survived COVID-19, he endured Stage 3 multiple myeloma, a cancer that impacts plasma cells in bone marrow. Jose’s intense treatment while bravely battling that disease included chemotherapy and spinal surgery, which caused long-lingering side effects.
Jose previously was confined to a wheelchair while Leo trained for his first fight against Carl Frampton. Northern Ireland’s Frampton remains the only opponent to defeat Santa Cruz, who lost a 12-round majority decision to Frampton in July 2016 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Santa Cruz regained the WBA “super” featherweight title from Frampton when he won their immediate rematch by majority decision in January 2017 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Jose’s cancer was in complete remission by the following spring, when Santa Cruz began training for his rematch against Abner Mares.
Other than aches and pains, Jose had remained relatively healthy until he contracted COVID-19.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.