By: Sean Crose
He’s now 32 years old. He’s been a professional athlete for just under 14 years. He’s held major titles in numerous weight divisions and has avenged his only professional loss. There is little doubt that Leo Santa Cruz possesses a classic success story. Now, however, as a new generation of dominant boxers emerges, Santa Cruz is being viewed as a member of the sport’s old guard. That’s an odd thing for a man still far removed from 40. Still, as this exciting and soft-spoken figure heads towards the October 24th date of his next fight, it’s his opponent, the brash, 25 year old Gervonta Davis who the media has it’s eyes on.
There’s some good reason for this, of course. Davis is lightning fast and hits with power outing thunder. He’s also the younger man by seven years and has yet to lose a fight. On top of that, Davis’ legal troubles and Twitter exploits have made him the stuff of click bait. He is arguably surfing a large sized wave headed for star status. Santa Cruz, on the other hand, is boxing’s quiet man. Wins over the likes of Carl Frampton and Abner Mares have made him respected and popular rather than loved or hated. He takes things as they come, Santa Cruz. In interviews, this extremely polite man appears almost passive. Santa Cruz is, in a sense, the popular opposite of Davis…although it has to be added here that Davis himself possesses a gracious, sportsmanlike side that gets brushed away in all the hoopla.
Perhaps more than anything else, the Davis-Santa Cruz fight is being presented – by the media and boxing public if not the promotion – as a classic passing of the torch fight. Will it be, though? He may be over thirty, but fighters today fare better as they age than in previous decades. Also worth considering is the fact Santa Cruz hasn’t taken a whole lot of damage in this 39 fight career. Lastly, there’s the matter of experience. Santa Cruz has wins over Abner Mares and Carl Frampton. That’s a talent level Davis arguably hasn’t faced yet, save for Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was already creeping towards forty when Davis bested him last December.
Should Davis prevail over Santa Cruz in this young lion versus old master bout, few will perhaps be surprised. People will inevitably ask, however, where Santa Cruz will go from there. He’ll ask it himself, no doubt. You won’t see him shooting his mouth off, though, about being robbed, or about how he’s ready to come back and take on the world. That’s just not his style. No, if he loses next month, Santa Cruz will quietly move on.
Just like he will if he wins.