Santa Cruz Climbs to Junior Feather

By Clarence George on February 13, 2013
Santa Cruz Climbs to Junior Feather
So, who’s up for Santa Cruz? Not Donaire or Rigondeaux, who are promoted by Top Rank.


Leo Santa Cruz has vacated his IBF bantamweight title to move up to the junior featherweight division.

Twenty-four-year-old Santa Cruz (23-0-1, 13 KOs) has been a pro since 2006. Undefeated, he drew against Rodrigo Hernandez in his second fight. Remarkable by today’s standards, the Mexican fought five times last year. A refreshing contrast to Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose appearances in the ring are rarer than Bigfoot sightings in Cleveland.

“El Terremoto” retired Alejandro Hernandez in the fourth in January; decisioned Vusi Malinga in June, winning the vacant IBF bantamweight title; stopped Eric Morel by fifth-round TKO in September; beat Victor Zaleta in November via ninth-round TKO; and decisioned Alberto Guevara in December. The bouts with Morel, Zaleta, and Guevara were title defenses. Since 2009, the Mexican has won 11 of 13 fights by KO or TKO, with only Malinga and Guevara going the distance.

In joining the 122-pounders, Santa Cruz’s anticipated bout with 118-pound mandatory challenger Jamie McDonnell is off the table (McDonnell will now likely face Julio Ceja). The same may be true of Golden Boy’s plan to arrange a Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares match-up, given Mares’ recent move to featherweight.

The promotional company is looking to put Santa Cruz back in the saddle in May. On May 4, perhaps? If so, that would be the same day Mayweather and Saul Alvarez are scheduled for their own giddyups. Respective ones, I should add. It doesn’t look at all likely that the two will be facing each other three months hence, but here’s a coin in the fountain for September.

So, who’s up for Santa Cruz? Not Nonito Donaire, who’s promoted by Top Rank. And the same is true of Guillermo Rigondeaux. In any event, “The Filipino Flash” and “El Chacal” are scheduled to face each other on April 13, which, with apologies to Frederick Forsyth, won’t be the day of the jackal.

Jeffrey Mathebula? 

A pro since 2001, the 33-year-old South African (26-4-2, 14 KOs) had two eventful fights last year. He decisioned Takalani Ndlovu in March, winning the IBF junior featherweight strap. He lost the title to Donaire, who defeated “The Mongoose” by unanimous decision in July. Well worth noting that Donaire knocked Mathebula to the canvas with a left hook in the fourth, breaking his jaw in two places. The South African could have gone wee wee wee all the way home, but opted instead to stick it out for the 12.

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Jeffrey Mathebula would be what’s becoming all too rare in boxing—a damned good scrap.

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Leo Santa Cruz (vs) Vusi Malinga



Takalani Ndlovu vs Jeffery MathebulaⅡ



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  1. pugknows 12:41pm, 02/13/2013

    Leo needs a rest.

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