By: Sean Crose
Leo Santa Cruz returned to the ring on Saturday for the first time since being knocked out by Gervonta Davis in highlight reel fashion back in the fall of 2021. The popular 37-2-1 four division titlist faced the 23-2-1 Keenan Carbajal Saturday on the undercard of the Keith Thurman-Mario Barrios welterweight main event. Santa Cruz-Carbajal was fought at super featherweight, and was scheduled for 10 rounds.
Santa Cruz looked very sharp and effective in the first. The second saw Santa Cruz continuing to impress, though he did receive a cut from an accidental head butt. Carbajal fought gamely in the third, but it was Santa Cruz who landed the better shots. Santa Cruz was cut again in the fourth. Carbajal started fighting better in the fifth, punching smartly against his more experienced foe. “I wish I could fucking jab,” Carbajal told his corner in between rounds.
Santa Cruz was the busier fighter in the sixth. Still, the referee stopped the action to have the ring doctor look at Santa Cruz’ eye. Allowed to continue fighting, Santa Cruz went on to dominate the seventh. The reality appeared to be that, talented and game as he was, Carbajal was simply outclassed on this particular occasion. Although it appeared Carbajal couldn’t use his jab, Santa Cruz was able to attack behind his own jab in the eighth. Things slowed down a bit in the first half of the ninth. Santa Cruz was able to bang away on his man in the last half of the chapter, however. Santa Cruz fired away to the body in the 10th and final round.
Unsurprisingly, the judges ruled in Santa Cruz favor via unanimous decision.
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