By: Hans Themistode
After fighting just once in 2018 WBA Featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) will be looking to have a much more active year. It’ll start this Saturday night when he take on Rafael Rivera (26-2-2, 17 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater in California.
A win for Santa Cruz will be the fourth defense of his title and undoubtedly bring him the big fights that he always wants to be apart of. That win won’t exactly come easy no matter what the critics say.
Rafael Rivera is getting the opportunity of a life time as he is replacing the injured Miguel Flores who suffered an ankle injury. Rivera will be looking to create a major upset. Time and time again we have seen champions over look their opponents and suffer the price for it in the ring. It is no secret that Santa Cruz is on the verge of a unification fight with current WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. A loss Saturday night puts an end to that dream.
It will be an uphill climb for Rivera from the very beginning as the champion will have the edge in just about every category imaginable. That however does not mean he has no path to victory. This will be Rivera’s first crack at a world title. If recent history tells us anything then it will show us that there has been plenty of recent massive upsets to be wary of.
The story seems to be telling us that Leo Santa Cruz will have an easy time in their on Saturday night but often times in boxing the story never quite goes as planned.
While Leo Santa Cruz and Rafael Rivera battle it out for gold both Omar Figueroa Jr (27-0-1, 19 KOs) and John Molina Jr (30-7, 24 KOs) will be looking to reinsert themselves in the title hunt at the Welterweight division.
Both men have been hit with the inactivity bug as they have not competed since 2017. This is a clash of two men with similar fighting styles as they both enjoy coming forward and look for the knockout at all times.
At age 36 and coming off the longest layoff of his career Molina Jr needs a big performance to place himself back in the thick of things as a true contender. For Figueroa Jr he has looked impressive in his career thus far. Unfortunately he has lost plenty of years because of a lack of activity. This will be the second time in his career that he will have not fought for over a year and a half. At age 29 he is still in his prime and has plenty of time to fulfill the promising potential that he has continued to flash.
A loss for either man will be difficult to bounce back from. A win however can place one of these fighters back on track to a world title shot.