RINGSIDE REPORT: Leo Santa Cruz Keeps Super Feather Crown
PBC on fox returned to a familiar place in downtown L.A to not only host a special press conference for Garcia vs. Spence but to also have fights involving guys that are heavily supported in the Southern California region.
The main event was for the WBA Super Featherweight title and it featured the Champion Leo “El Famoso Terremoto” Santa Cruz (35-1-1) defending his crown against Rafael Rivera (26-2-2) on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
In his last outing, Santa Cruz fought a classic battle with Abner Mares at the nearby Staples Center. That fight had no shortage of action as both men left it all in the ring that night, which led to a standing ovation.
Rafael Rivera is a tough, rugged fighter who comes forward and throws a high number of punches with bad intentions. After suffering a close split decision loss to Joet Gonzalez last summer, he rebounded in October with a knockout win over Jose Ramos.
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Rafael Rivera
The first round was more so a “feel out” round for both men as they were testing ranges and angles. In the second, it was Leo’s left uppercut that was doing most of the damage but Rivera would come right back with a left hook. In rounds three through eight, it was Leo SantaCruz who was pressing the action and landing but Rivera was still seeing success. The ninth round saw a very intense battle where both men landed punishing blows on each other which ended in a standing ovation from those in the crowd. The championship rounds were intense and although Leo Santa Cruz was winning them, Rivera showed fans why he belonged on that primetime stage. The fight ended appropriately with both men going toe to toe in the middle of the ring. The fight went to the score cards and all three judges had it 119-109 for the winner Leo Santa Cruz.
Co-Main: Omar Figueroa Jr. (27-0) vs. John Molina Jr. (37-7)
The fight between Omar Figueroa and John Molina played out exactly how most boxing fans knew it would. Figueroa looked out of shape and sluggish in the first round while Molina was landing the more crisp punches. In the second, Figueroa started to get going and landed massive body shots forcing Molina to drop his arms a bit. In the third, it was a crushing over hand right by Molina that hurt Figueroa but he ended up surviving the round. In the fourth, Figueroa…
.. came back with a right hook that hurt Molina. Rounds five through ten was more back and forth action which made the rounds extremely close for some watching ringside. In the end, the judges scored it 97-93, 98-92 and 99-91 for the winner and still undefeated Omar Figueroa Jr.
Sebastian Fundora (11-0) vs. Donnie Marshall (10-0)
This fight should have been held in a phone booth as that is how they fought. Although the junior middleweight Fundora was the taller, longer guy, he decided to fight in the pocket and get this crowd started right away. Both men were pounding each other back and forth but in the third, Fundora landed a left hook sending Marshall to the canvas. Marshall did beat the ten count but Fundora jumped all over him and the referee had to jump in and stop the fight. Your winner was Sebastian Fundora by knockout. This kid is someone to keep an eye on right now.
Premier Boxing Champions once again stacked the card on back-to-back weekends. Instead of the sixteen fights that occurred last weekend, this event featured thirteen. Here is a look at the bouts that occurred that weren’t part of the main network telecast.
“King” Karlos Balderas (6-0) vs Jose Cen Torres (13-10)
Karlos Balderas has the “it” factor and you can see it as soon as the bell rings. He was caught a few times with an overhand right by Torres in the first round but Karlos was picking his shots wisely and working the body. In the second, it was the left hook to the body that sent Torres to the canvas in pain but he was able to beat the ten count. In the third, it was more Balderas left hooks to the body that was really hurting Torres and it showed by the wincing reaction he made to the punches. Torres did not get up from his stool to see the fourth round so the winner by knockout is Karlos Balderas.
Neri Romero (11-0) vs. Thomas Smith (5-6-1)
The first round was an interesting one as the undefeated fighter Neri Romero was dropped by a quick counter right hook. After gaining his composure, Romero got up and started to go to work. In the second, Romero had the overhand right landing and Smith seemed to be waiting for that counter to land which had him throwing fewer punches. Rounds three through six saw Romero landing a good left hook to the body and a overhand right. The fight went to the scorecards and Neri Romero won by unanimous decision with all three judges seeing the fight 58-55 in his favor.
Shon Mondragon (Debut) vs. Julio Martinez (1-0)
In his pro debut, Shon Mondragon came out like a blaze of fire. The southpaw was working the right jab that led to a few strong straight lefts down the middle. In the second, Mondragon was just overwhelming Martinez with punches until the referee finally stepped in calling a halt to the action. Shon Mondragon wins by second round knockout.
These undercards featured a ton of undefeated fighters who are all looking to stay busy and continue to progress their careers. There was plenty of support from the crowd as they arrived early and stayed late, in order to support their guy and the fighters repaid them by giving them some action fights.
There was no question that tonight’s card was considered “must see TV”! This had all of the elements that would intrigue a causal fan: drama, action and an electric atmosphere. When the fox deal was completed, these were the type of cards that boxing fans hoped they would get on “free tv” and they definitely delivered this Saturday night.