Leo Santa Cruz vs Rafael Rivera Preview Feb. 16th
WBA Super World Featherweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz will be defending his title against fellow Mexican Rafael Rivera at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California this Saturday, Feb. 16th. The 12-round tilt can be seen live in North America on Fox and Fox Deportes. Santa Cruz last fought in June when he beat Abner Mares in a rematch by unanimous decision. The two first met in 2015 with Santa Cruz winning a 12-round majority decision. Rivera’s last action came in October when he stopped Jose Ramos in the sixth round.
Santa Cruz vs Rivera Betting Odds
- Rafael Rivera +2000
- Leo Santa Cruz -5556
The 30-year-old Santa Cruz, who fights out of the Los Angeles area, has an impressive record of 35-1-1 along with 19 Kos. He’s also won world bantamweight and junior featherweight titles since turning pro but decided to move up in weight and captured the vacant WBA Super World Featherweight Belt when he beat Mares in 2015. Santa Cruz stands just over 5-feet-7-inches tall with a 69-inch reach. He has a 51 per cent knockout ratio and has fought 238 rounds since turning pro in 2006.
His biggest wins have been against Mares, Carl Frampton, Kiko Martinez, Cristian Mijares, Victor Terrazas and Eric Morel. Santa Cruz’s lone draw was a four-rounder against Rodrigo Hernandez in 2007 and his lone defeat came at the hands of Frampton via a majority decision in their first meeting in 2016. Santa Cruz then regained his crown via a majority decision over Frampton six months later. The champion is quite an exciting boxer as he tends to throw punches in bunches and isn’t averse to going toe-to-toe with his opponents.
Santa Cruz also owns a pretty solid chin to go along with his boxing skills and he’s won most of his fights due to his relentless punching output. He likes to work inside and trade shots even when he has the advantage in height and reach. He’s just half an inch taller than Rivera, but has a three-inch edge in reach. Fans would like to see Santa Cruz meet Frampton in a rubber match some other elite boxers in his weight division such as Gary Russell Jr, but since this bout is on free tv we’ll settle for it. Santa Cruz was supposed to meet Miguel Flores on Saturday, but he pulled out with an ankle injury.
Rivera is a 24-year-old from Tijuana and enters the bout with a mark of 26-2-2 along with17 Kos. He turned pro in 2012 when he was just a teenager and has fought 115 rounds since. He’s got decent power but isn’t a KO artist with a current knockout ratio of 55 per cent. Since turning pro he’s won the WBC Fecarbox Featherweight Title with a 10-round split decision over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in 2015. He’s had two shots at the WBO NABO Featherweight Crown, but came out short on both occasions.
Joseph Diaz beat him by a unanimous 12-round decision in September of 2017 for the belt and Joet Gonzalez edged him by a 10-round majority decision 10 months later, meaning Rivera has lost two of his last three fights. His two draws came against Andres Tapia in a four-round affair in his second pro fight in 2012 and against Juan Gomez Torres five months later. Rivera’s biggest wins have been against Vazquez, Ruben Hernandez, Jose Luis Araiza and Ruben Tamayo.
Rivera stands 5-feet-7-inches tall and has a wingspan of 66 inches. He’s been brought along slowly since he was just 17 when turning pro. Just one of his first 22 opponents had a winning record and that was Andres Tapia who was just 2-1-1. However, when he did move up in class against Vazquez he handled himself quite well. He’ll be taking another leap in class against Santa Cruz on Saturday though so he better be prepared for what lies ahead of him.
Santa Cruz is used to dictating the pace and overwhelming his opponents with punches and that’s what he’ll try against Rivera. This could turn into an exciting fight if Rivera hits back, but when it’s all said and done I’m expecting Santa Cruz to retain his title.
Santa Cruz should be too much for the youngster.
Play: Santa Cruz -5556 @ BetOnline.ag
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