CARL FRAMPTON PREVIEWS LEO SANTA CRUZ-CRISTIAN MIJARES

Santa Cruz vs. Mijares is live on BoxNation (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546) this Sunday at 2am. Visit www.boxnation.com to subscribe.

Mexico’s WBC super-bantam king Leo Santa Cruz is beginning to draw comparisons with Hall of Fame whirlwinds Henry Armstrong and Aaron Pryor.

Like ‘Homicide Hank’ and ‘The Hawk’, the 25 year old who now resides in Rosemead, California appears to have a pitless fuel tank and his incessant turbo charged assaults have taken him to six world title wins (four for the IBF bantam strap) over the past 21 months.

Known as ‘Teremito’, the 26-0-1 (15) buzzsaw puts his title up for tender this Saturday against veteran compatriot Cristian Mijares, a 32 year old southpaw who has just seven losses on a 58 fight career that includes 15 world championship spats and reigns on the WBC, WBA and IBF super-fly thrones. The pair clash at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and it promises to be genuine top class fare.

Watch the whole world championship card which also features a 12 round Mexican civil war between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Alfredo Angulo, live and exclusive in the UK by tuning into BoxNation, the Channel of Champions from 2am Sunday morning on Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546.

One man who’ll be gripped to his TV screen is former Commonwealth and European 122lb champion Carl Frampton who’s currently ranked second with the WBC and set to embark on a final eliminator with another Mexican Hugo Cazares in his hometown of Belfast on April 4th.

Carl said: “Santa Cruz and the WBC belt is the route we intend going so obviously I’ve got an interest in this fight. However, he’s always in good, exciting fights and, though I never over study my opponents, I do enjoy watching him.

I think he and I would be a great clash of styles. Santa Cruz’s at his best in a ‘trade off’ whereas I’ve shown I can adapt to lots of different styles. He’s not the best in the division. I’d place Rigondeaux as number one at 122 (lbs) – he’s probably in the top three ‘pound for pound’ – and I’d also place myself ahead of Santa Cruz. But you can’t knock him. He’s had some very good wins and probably sneaks into the top 15 ‘pound for pound’. It’s a fight I really relish in the near future.

Leo’s work rate is very, very good and his punch selection is exceptional if the opponent goes forehead to forehead with him. I won’t be. He’s got a tight defence up close and is very good at mixing his shots between the head and body and from different angles, if he can push his opponent back against the ropes. He’s capable of throwing seven or eight punch combinations and nearly every shot lands.

But in his last defence he had problems with (Cesar) Seda and was taken the full distance because his opponent gave him good movement….and Seda isn’t a world class opponent.
Every fighter at world level can hurt you with those little eight ounce gloves on but I certainly don’t think Santa Cruz is a one punch banger. It’s just that he throws so many punches and gradually grinds opponents down.

And he’s certainly there to be hit himself. He walks forward, right in front of opponents, trying to bully them and overwhelm them. But I believe that I’m equally as strong physically. I’m confident that I’d hit him with a lot of clean hard shots.

Obviously Mijares record suggests that he’s been a very good fighter but he’s 32 now and getting on a bit.

I’ve seen a few of his more recent fights. He moves well and knows how to use all of the ring. Like a lot of the top Mexicans such as Barrera, Morales and Marquez, Mijares’ punches are really long and it’s the shots with length and distance which knock opponents out.

It’s possible that he might win a few early rounds against Santa Cruz but I think that eventually his legs will slow him down. Age catches up with every fighter eventually but the lighter guys tend to get affected earlier than most. Mijares has been fighting at the very highest level for a long, long time now. I’m not sure that he’ll still be able to avoid punches like once he could.

To trouble Santa Cruz, he’ll need to apply movement but not too much. At his age, he can’t go darting all around the ring. He’ll need to throw then cleverly move off to the side. But he can’t run away. That’ll take far too much out of his legs.

Leo basically has one style; he comes forward and throws a lot of punches and tries to get on your chest as soon as possible. He sets a very high pace. I’m not expecting us to see anything different from him on Saturday night that we’ve not seen many times before.

No doubt Mijares is going to move around and Santa Cruz will do all he can to force it into a fight. I think that, at this stage of his career, Mijares is going to have to stand and fight after about four or five rounds and that’s when it’ll get interesting, when it’ll turn exciting.

I don’t expect Mijares to pose Leo too many problems. At 25, Santa Cruz will prove too young, too fit, too fresh, too strong and too aggressive. I expect him to force a stoppage win somewhere around the eighth and to look impressive doing it.”

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