Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA- Leo Santa Cruz defended his IBF title against Victor Zaleta in a fight that looked competitive for the first round at least.
In the first round both fighters traded punches and surprisingly Zaleta was able to counter Santa Cruz several times. In general, Santa Cruz was more active and landed more overall punches.
Through the second round, Santa Cruz looked to worked the body and once he got Zaleta in the corners he was able to unload combinations to the body with follow ups to the head. Santa Cruz started to take control of the bout but Zaleta still showed he was no push over and came back with several combinations himself.
In the third round Santa Cruz stepped on the gas peddle a bit more and with combinations to the body and pressure on Zaleta, he was able to corner him and hurt him several times. But again, Zaleta stayed in there willing to trade with Santa Cruz.
In the forth round, Santa Cruz came in and got off to a quick start with combinations to the body the slowed down Zaleta right away. Finally with few seconds left in the round, Santa Cruz landed a combination that floored Zaleta who was able to make it up from the count and was saved by the bell.
In the fifth rond, impressively, Zaleta was able to withstand another round of pure punishment from Santa Cruz. As Santa Cruz unleashed combinations on Zaleta, the crowd shouted for the fight to be stopped, but the referee himself saw no indications to do so yet. Again, Zaleta survived the round as momentum was now completely in Sana Cruz’s favor.
In the sixth, Zaleta once again proved he wasn’t in there just for a paycheck. He brawled with Santa Cruz and on several occasions got the best of the trade offs.
Determined, Santa Cruz came out strong in the seventh and pressured Zaleta from the get go, eventually cornering him and landing a left hook to the body that dropped Zaleta. Zaelta made it from the count and Santa Cruz unleashed a storm of punches on him that almost made the referee stop the fight. Instead, Zaleta was saved by the bell once again and made it to his corner.
In the eight we saw more of the same, Santa Cruz dominating but Zaleta unwilling to call it a night. Taking a lot of punishment, Zaleta stayed in there with Santa Cruz and even though he was getting out-punched he continued to trade blows.
In the ninth round, Zaleta’s bravery finally caught up to him as he was brutally knocked out by Santa Cruz with a vicious straight right that caused the referee to stop the fight right away without even giving Zaleta a count.
After the fight, Jim Gray asked Santa Cruz if he wanted to face the winner of Abner Mares vs Anselmo Moreno, he replied with “I defeintely want to face the winner fo that fight, but I would also like to get at least one or two more fights to get ready for any of those two guys, but I really want to face the winner.’
A fight between Santa Cruz and Abner Mares would be an interesting match up, one that fans would love to see and one that would be easy to get made since both fighters are with Golden Boy Promotions.