Unbeaten IBF Bantamweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico will be putting his title on the line this Sat. Nov. 10 against fellow countryman Victor Zaleta when the two square off at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Santa Cruz will have the hometown support as he now fights out of California while Zaleta still calls Mexico his home.
The 24-year-old Santa Cruz said he’s excited to be fighting in front of thousands of his fans and feels they’ll energize and motivate him. The youngster defended his world title just two months ago with an impressive fifth-round TKO over former world champion Eric Morel on Sept. 15. He said that bout gave him a lot of confidence and it’ll take an exceptional effort by Zaleta to derail him.
Zaleta said he’s not about to waste an opportunity at winning a world title and this is why he hot into boxing in the first place. He said he’s going to make the most of his chance and aims at taking the title and making a name for himself in the sport.
Santa Cruz has been fighting as a pro since 2006 and has racked up an excellent record of 21-0-1 with 12 KOs. His toughest opponent to date was Morel, who is past his prime, but still looked fast, powerful, and crisp against him. It was the first time in his career that Morel has been stopped and he looked outclassed throughout the bout. Santa Cruz won the belt in June with a 12-round unanimous decision over Vusi Malinga and the champion will be hoping to keep the momentum going with a bout so soon after his last defence.
This will be his fourth fight of the year as he likes to stay active and he’s picked a pretty good opponent in Zaleta, who has a 20-2-1 record with 10 KOs. Zaleta hails from Juarez in Mexico and turned pro back in 2007. His only defeat in his last 16 matches came last year when he dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to Omar Andres Narvaez in a bout for the WBO Super Flyweight Championship. His only other loss came in 2008 when he lost a 10-round majority decision to Faustino Caupul. He’s won his last four bouts, but hasn’t fought any world-class opponents along the way other than Narvaez.
It’s hard to say if Zaleta’s ready for a world title shot in the bantamweight division, but considering that Santa Cruz isn’t really an experienced champion yet, this may be his best shot. Zaleta stands 5-feet-6.5 inches and has a 68.5-inch reach. Santa Cruz has a minimal reach advantage at 69 inches and a slight height advantage as he’s 5-foot-7.
Santa Cruz has been improving each time out and it looks like he’s probably a bit too good for Zaleta at this stage of their careers. This should be an exciting bout and there could be some toe-to-toe action. Look for Santa Cruz to retain his title by a decision or a late-round stoppage.
Visit Betfair.com for the latest odds on the Santa Cruz vs Zaleta title fight.