Monday, December 05, 2022  |


Q&A: Leo Santa Cruz

Leo Santa Cruz poses with former gym mate and sparring partner Manuel Roman in the lobby of the MGM Grand, where the two junior featherweight will fight on Saturday. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Leo Santa Cruz (left) poses with former gym mate and sparring partner Manuel Roman in the lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where the two junior featherweights will fight on Saturday. Photo by Naoki Fukuda


Leo Santa Cruz returns from a six-month hiatus to face Manuel Roman on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana rematch on Showtime Pay-Per-View on Saturday.

The extended period out of the ring was due to back-to-back 12-round fights in the space of three months, Santa Cruz told

“My manager felt I needed a little bit of a rest,” Santa Cruz said from his training base in Los Angeles last week. “I fought in December (against Daniel Seda) and then against (Cristian) Mijares (in March) they (both) went 12 rounds. They thought my body needed a rest to recover.”

He’s used the break from boxing to enjoy time with family. In that period of time, the recently turned 26 year old has been seen at shows in Southern California and Las Vegas where he’s received plenty of adulation from fans.

The friendly WBC junior bantamweight champion is eager to make a big impression against his former sparring partner on such an illustrious platform.

“I’m really excited, I’m really motivated and 100 percent ready to go out there and show the fans who don’t know me who I am,” said Santa Cruz. “So they can follow me because millions of people will be watching. I’ve got to go out there and do my best.”

Along with Santa Cruz-Roman, the event dubbed “Mayhem” from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is headlined by Mayweather-Maidana II, and supported by IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez facing Mickey Bey, and junior middleweight slugger Alfredo Angulo, who looks to return to winning ways against James De La Rosa in a 10-round special attraction.

Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on fighting Roman?

Leo Santa Cruz – It’s gonna be a good fight. Fans think he’s not a good fighter but he is a good fighter. I’ve known him since the amateurs, we went to the tournaments together and he was my sparring partner at the beginning of my career when I turned pro. We used to spar and help each other and have good sparring sessions. He has good speed, good technique, good skills, so I think it’s gonna be a great fight Sept. 13. Fans are going to know he’s not an easy fight.

AW – The choice of Roman as your opponent has been criticised in some quarters. How would you answer your critics?

LSC – A lot of people are saying he’s not ranked but I train 100 percent and get ready and they tell me the name of the opponent and I fight him. I follow the rules and fight who they tell me to. I’m ready to give the fans a great fight and hopefully get the better fights and better opponents next time.

AW – What do you think he brings to the fight?
LSC – He already knows me and I know him. I think he’s gonna try to counterpunch me and box me ’cause that’s the way he boxes but we’re gonna go out there and take it to him and try to break him down and stop him before 12 rounds.

AW – Your last fight was against Cristian Mijares. What are your thoughts on that fight?
LSC – That fight was a great experience because I learned a lot from that fight. He moved a lot and was a lefty and I thought it would be a little harder and more complicated but thanks to our hard work we got the win.

AW – Though you haven’t fought, you’ve been ringside at several fights including the Lucas Matthysse-John Molina, Mayweather-Maidana I, Canelo-Lara, etc. You’re very popular with fans?
LSC – Yeah, I thank the fans for supporting me 100 percent. That’s what I train for, the fans to like me and to give them great fights. It’s great to see the fans and I stay there (signing autographs) until the last minute. If it’s an hour or two hours I try to stay as long as I can.

AW – It had been rumoured that you would face Carl Frampton, however that never happened. What happened from your point of view?
LSC – I don’t know, maybe they didn’t come to an agreement with the promoters. They never told me about that fight. If it was up to me I would fight him whenever but I was never told about that fight. Hopefully, it can happen next year against Frampton or Scott Quigg. I would go to Britain. It’s up to my manager and promoter, but I would go wherever they want.

AW – How do you feel at 122 pounds? Do you feel you will move up to 126 soon?
LSC – I feel good at 122 right now. I want to do three more fights and defend the title and then go for the big fights.

AW – Is there anybody in particular you’d like to fight at 122?
LSC – Yeah, it’s (Guillermo) Rigondeaux, Scott Quigg or Carl Frampton. Those are the three fights I would like at 122.

AW – What are your thoughts on the junior featherweight division?
LSC – It’s a great division with great fighters. I think there are great fights and a lot of opportunities. I think we try to make those fights as soon as possible. Right now it is one of the strongest divisions.

AW – What goals do you have in boxing?
LSC – My goals are to move up in weight and win titles at 126, then go to 130 and then 135. I think my body can go up to 140.

AW – Tell us about yourself and what you enjoy doing away from boxing
LSC – Right now away from boxing, I like to spend time with the family. We go fishing, play bowling, hang out with barbeques.

AW – In closing, do you have a message for Roman?
LSC – I know he’s gonna give 100 percent and go out there and give a great fight. May the better man win and give the fans a great fight.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at