Before Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz throw hands, Leo Santa Cruz and Brandon Figueroa defend titles
By Bill Tibbs
On Saturday, November 23, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, WBC boss Deontay Wilder will defend his heavyweight title against former foe Luis Ortiz. Wilder will look to pick up his 2nd win against Ortiz whom he bested in March of 2018 via TKO. For Ortiz, it is a chance to regain the WBC version of the title; Ortiz held the WBA belt in 2015.
Besides the big boys, there are some strong title matches on the undercard featuring some of boxing’s big, little men with Leo Santa Cruz going up against Miguel Flores for the WBA 130-pound title and Brandon Figueroa taking on Julio Ceja for the WBA super bantamweight (122-pound) title.
Let’s take a look at the chief support bouts.
Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KO’s) vs. Miguel Flores (24-2-0, 12 KO’s) WBA junior lightweight title
I like Leo in this one.
Santa Cruz has the power and experience edge over the younger Flores. Each time Flores has stepped up to more experienced (ranked) competition he has come up short. He is coming in off of 2 wins but when he stopped up to more experienced competition in 2017, facing Dat Nguyen and Chris Avalos, he was stopped. With a 50% KO ratio he doesn’t have an edge in power and with little to concern himself with in that department, Santa Cruz will get real brave, real fast.
For Santa Cruz, he will be coming in off the 3rd defense of his WBA super world featherweight title that he won back in the Carl Frampton rematch in January of 2017. Santa Cruz, who has won world titles at 118, 122 and 126-pounds should be able to keep off Flores with his strong jab from the perimeter before he starts to load up on power counters. Despite coming into the fight off of 2 distance wins I like Santa Cruz by mid-late rounds stoppage in this fight to grab his 4th world title.
Brandon Figueroa (20-0, 15 KO’s) vs. Julio Ceja (32-4, 28 KO’s) WBA junior featherweight title
Figueroa might be considered the favorite going in being undefeated, and a champion (interim), heading into his 3rd title fight, but he could have his hands full. Ceja is a former world super bantamweight champion who was giving former world champ Guillermo Rigondeaux all kinds of problems, and ahead on the scorecards, until he was stopped in his last fight in June. While Figueroa has faced the better competition, you also can’t discount that he is still 2-3 in his last 5 heading into the fight.
Ceja can punch having picked up 28 KO’s in his 32 victories so Figueroa can’t get careless. But, in the end, I like Figueroa in a decision over 12 rounds to make the 2nd defense of the title that he won in April.