If you can’t trick or treat on Halloween night, you can catch a treat of a boxing match featuring two highly skilled world champions fighting for both the WBA super featherweight and lightweight championships. Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 knockouts) is set to headline his first pay-per-view event in his 40th professional bout.
Santa Cruz is a high-energy fighter known for his high volume of punches. His fan-friendly style has helped him land several high-profile televised fights. ‘El Terremoto’ is trying to win a title in his fifth different weight class.
Santa Cruz last fought nearly a year ago, when he defeated Miguel Flores by unanimous decision on Nov. 23. Gervonta Davis, Santa Cruz’s next opponent, is 23-0-0 with 22 knockouts. Expect 4th of July-like fireworks on Halloween night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
During a recent conversation, Santa Cruz opened up about his fight with Davis, how his father’s health struggles motivate him and much more.
Percy Crawford interviewed Leo Santa Cruz for Zenger News.
Zenger: How are you doing, Leo?
Leo Santa Cruz: I feel good. I just got done training, so I feel great. How are you?
Zenger: I’m great. Thanks for asking. I know you have a tight schedule, so I’ll keep it short. When you look at footage of Gervonta Davis, what are your takeaways?
Santa Cruz: He’s a great fighter, great talent, great skills, great puncher, great power. He has everything that a fighter can ask for. The only thing is maybe his stamina, but he’s been training hard for this fight, and it shows. Hopefully, he’s in great condition. I don’t take anything away from him. He’s a great fighter.
Zenger: You seem to live a very comfortable life right now. At 32 years old, what keeps you motivated to continue to fight at such a high level?
Santa Cruz: What keeps me motivated is my family. We grew up really poor. We struggled a lot, and I don’t want to go back to that. I continue to train hard in the gym, make great fights and keep my family straight for them to live and create a good future.
Zenger: We just watched Vasiliy Lomachenko, a 32-year old guy, move up in weight and lose to a 23-year old fighter who was bigger than he was. You are 32, and Gervonta is 25. You’re moving up, as did Lomachenko. How do you prevent having the same fate as the perception of the bigger and younger fighter having the advantage?
Santa Cruz: Yeah (laughing). I think the difference is I have a heart. I have that Aztec Warrior Mexican heart. I’m going to go out there no matter what. I’m not going to be scared to throw punches. No matter if he is the bigger guy, I’m going to go out there and throw punches and be on top of him. We don’t back down from nobody. We are going to be there with him with that Aztec spirit.
Zenger: This fight will take place on Halloween night, which is the last day of October, which marks the last day of essentially ‘Cancer Awareness Month.’ Your father’s health issues and battle with cancer are well-documented. Are you using them as motivation to fuel you for this fight, or do you feel it’s best to leave those emotions out of it because that can be a dangerous approach?
Santa Cruz: I don’t have to fight emotional. My dad is great motivation for me because he has struggled going through everything he’s going through. What I’m going through in the gym, training hard and everything, is nothing compared to what he’s going through and what he’s been through. So, when I feel myself feeling down or a little bit tired, I think about my dad. I do this for him. I know that if I get this win, he is going to be very happy, and it will be extra motivation for him to continue fighting against cancer, and that’s what I want. But like I say, this is boxing, and you never know. Anything can happen out there. I just want for hopefully both of us to come out healthy from the fight. And I want my dad to not worry about me if anything goes wrong. I want to motivate him and make him proud.
Zenger: Most observers are viewing this fight as a volume-versus-power fight: Your volume against Davis’ power. Do you agree with that, or do you see this fight as being more than just that?
Santa Cruz: I think it’s a little bit more. I’m not only just volume. I can box. If I throw my volume, he will catch me. I can get caught with something, and he could catch me with a good power punch. I don’t want to go out there and just throw a lot of punches. I just have to go out there and be smart, pick my punches and fight a smart fight. But once we’re in there, we know we have to fight him; and whatever is working, that’s what we’re going to do.
Zenger: Obviously, Floyd Mayweather can’t fight for Gervonta, but his presence in this camp has been instrumental — or it appears to have been instrumental in how Gervonta has trained. Do you think Gervonta could possibly get caught up in trying to impress Floyd too much and that could lead to opportunities for you?
Santa Cruz: Yeah, hopefully he does make mistakes because of that. When you have someone like Floyd Mayweather around you … if I had Floyd Mayweather in my corner, I would be trying to impress him so much that maybe I would get too carried away and do something wrong. Or get too frustrated trying to do what he’s telling me, and I can’t do it. So, it’s a little bit of both. It can be extra motivation, and it can be a distraction. We’re going to see fight day how it plays out.
Zenger: You’re adding weight and muscle to your frame. Physically, how do you feel?
Santa Cruz: Physically, I feel great. I feel strong. I look strong. People are telling me I look really big, and I’ve been looking strong in the sparring and on the mitts and everything. I like to hear that because I’ve been working hard and doing everything that I have to do in the gym to go out there and give a great fight. We are happy with the results right now.
Zenger: You always give us your best. I appreciate the time. Good luck on fight night, and I hope both you and Gervonta walk away healthy.
Santa Cruz: Thank you, man. I appreciate it and have a great day.
(Edited by Stan Chrapowicki and Allison Elyse Gualtieri)
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