By Keith Idec
Their handlers at Golden Boy Promotions hope to one day match Leo Santa Cruz against Abner Mares in what undoubtedly would be a fan-friendly featherweight title fight in Southern California.
But the undefeated Santa Cruz cannot think about meeting Mares this week. Not with what he expects will be a very difficult fight against WBC super bantamweight champion Victor Terrazas awaiting him Saturday night in Carson, Calif. (Showtime; 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).
“I think Terrazas is going to be the toughest fighter I’ve fought in my career,” Santa Cruz said. “He’s a great champion. He likes to come forward and throw a lot of punches. He’s a true Mexican warrior, very brave. But those are the kinds of fighters I like.”
The 30-year-old Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KOs), of Guadalajara, Mexico, won the WBC 122-pound championship in his last fight. He took the then-vacant title by earning a split-decision victory over fellow Mexican Cristian Mijares (48-7-2, 23 KOs) on April 20 in Mexico City.
Terrazas has defeated Mijares and another former champion from Mexico, Fernando Montiel (50-4-2, 38 KOs), in two of his five fights since November 2011. Mijares and Montiel are past their primes, but Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs), of Lincoln Heights, Calif., is impressed by Terrazas, who has won 11 straight fights.
“Some guys are like wildfires,” Santa Cruz, 25, said. “They get crazy and throw a lot of wild punches. He’s not like that. Terrazas also has great technique. But he doesn’t run, and those types of guys are easier for me. I know he’s going to give it his best and leave it in the ring. I expect a very hard fight. Both of us have trained really hard to give a great fight, and the better fighter is going to win.”
Terrazas feels he has been overlooked as his highest-profile fight approaches, but he hasn’t let the perceived disrespect affect him.
“Going in, we know that Leo Santa Cruz is the favorite in his hometown,” Terrazas said. “But I’m champion of the world and I’m here to show you why I’m the champion. I’m really excited about fighting in his backyard, and I’m confident I’ll be successful.”
In the main event of Showtime’s doubleheader Saturday night from StubHub Center, Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs), a three-division champion from Montebello, Calif., will defend his WBC featherweight title against former WBC 126-pound champion Jhonny Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs), of Mexico City.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.