Antonio Santa Cruz realizes Gervonta Davis is the perceived puncher who has knocked out all but one of his pro opponents.
Leo Santa Cruz’s brother and co-trainer thinks Davis will be surprised, though, by the underdog’s power when they square off October 31 at Alamodome in San Antonio.
“Leo has put on some muscle and his power has gone up a lot,” Antonio Santa Cruz said during a virtual workout Tuesday in La Puente, California. “He’s looking really strong. People say that Gervonta is a monster in the ring, but I think Leo is going to be the monster on October 31.”
The 25-year-old Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has knocked out 96 percent of his opponents since making his pro debut in February 2013. The Baltimore native has won 14 consecutive bouts by knockout or technical knockout.
The 32-year-old Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) has gone all 12 rounds in five of his past six appearances. His lone win inside the distance during that stretch was an eighth-round knockout of Chris Avalos (27-8, 20 KOs) in October 2017.
Santa Cruz will fight for just the second time at the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds in this first defense of his WBA title. He defeated Houston’s Miguel Flores (24-3, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder last November 23 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to win the WBA “super” 130-pound championship Davis vacated last year to move up to the lightweight division.
“Leo has brought his power up in weight with him,” Antonio Santa Cruz said. “When he hits the mitts, I can feel the increased strength that he has. I think it’s going to help him in the ring because Gervonta is going to have to respect that power.”
Handicappers list Davis as approximately a 5-1 favorite in advance of their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event.
Santa Cruz has numerous motivations, however, including nearly losing his father and co-trainer, Jose Santa Cruz, to COVID-19 over the summer. Jose Santa Cruz survived cancer prior to contracting COVID-19 (https://www.boxingscene.com/santa-cruz-father-nearly-died-from-covid-19-back-gym-helping-train-son--152334).
“Gervonta is a knockout artist, but I, of course, believe that Leo can take him,” Antonio Santa Cruz said. “Leo is smart and so dedicated. He has the extra motivation in seeing our father still here, fighting through his cancer. He sees how strong he is fighting and knows he can be strong enough to beat Gervonta.
“I think that Leo is going to throw too many punches and give too much pressure. Leo has the experience and the intelligence to get this win.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.