Santa Cruz vs. Flores Preview

By Robert Ecksel on January 5, 2019
Santa Cruz vs. Flores Preview
Leo Santa Cruz is an elite fighter facing a fighter who is not, so his victory is a given.

“This is going to be a great fight. Miguel Flores is a tough fighter who throws a lot of punches and comes forward…”

On Saturday, February 16, in a fight televised live by Premier Boxing Champions on FOX & FOX Deportes from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs), the WBA featherweight champion from Rosemead, California, by way of Huetamo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, will defend his title against Miguel Flores (23-2, 11 KOs), from Houston, Texas, by way of Morelia, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico.

In advance of the bout, the combatants appeared at a presser in the Conga Room in L.A. yesterday to generate interest in a fight that looks like a mismatch on paper.

“He may think I’m underestimating him,” said Santa Cruz about his challenger, who has lost two of his last three fights, “but I’ve never underestimated any fighter I’ve faced. Media and fans may think differently, but I don’t think I’m superior to anyone else, I just do my work.

“I get all of my confidence from my training. I learn everything in the gym. I work hard and train like I’m the challenger. I want to go and give the fans a great fight and continue to grow my name.

“When I retire I want to be known as a great Mexican fighter, so I’ve trained very hard with my dad. Even though he’s sick, he still is in the gym pushing me and telling me what to do. It’s a huge motivation to see him there supporting me. I know that if he sees me pushing myself, it’s going to motivate him too.

“When I say that I want to unify the featherweight division, I’m not looking past Miguel Flores. I have to be positive and always look toward the future. I’m not looking back. I’m just training hard to get that win and become the best at 126-pounds. First that means beating Miguel Flores.

“This is going to be a great fight. Miguel Flores is a tough fighter who throws a lot of punches and comes forward. He’s got a big right hand and he works the body well. He’s a fighter who leaves everything in the ring.

“I want to unify against any of the champions. I want any of the champions in 2019 and I want to become the featherweight king.”

Flores may have virtues, but if Santa Cruz wants to become the “featherweight king,” he needs to fight the other featherweights who lay claim to that title and acknowledge a gimme when it’s in front of him.

“It’s been a long road for me,” Flores said. “I’m going to put on a good show on February 16. Leo and his father are professionals and they’ll work hard in the gym, but I have a feeling they’re overlooking me.

“I know all the hard work I’ve put in the gym and I know that I deserve this opportunity and I’m going to prove it by making the most of it.

“This is a great night of fights and I’m thankful to everyone that made it possible. My trainer, Aaron Navarro, has been with me and is really a father figure for me. The support from back home has been amazing.

“I’m excited to be starting off the year with this great opportunity. I’m going to give the writers an easy task, because on February 16 I’m going to give them the Upset of the Year and the Fight of the Year on the same night.

“People are going to be in for a treat on February 16. We have two Mexican fighters going toe-to-toe. You’re going to want to show up to see this one.”

Two Mexican fighters going toe-to-toe is desirable under any circumstances. But Santa Cruz is an elite fighter facing a fighter who is not, so his victory is a foregone conclusion.

Also on the card, John Molina Jr., faces unbeaten former champion Omar Figueroa in a 12-round junior welterweight clash as part of televised coverage beginning at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.

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