Leo Santa Cruz Defends Featherweight Belt Vs. Miguel Flores
Featherweight world champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz will defend his WBA title against Houston’s Miguel Flores in a showdown that headlines Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday, February 16 from Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features an exciting 12-round junior welterweight clash between unbeaten former champion Omar Figueroa and hard-hitting John Molina Jr.
Tickets for the show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Ringstar Sports are on sale now, and can be purchased at AXS.com.
“Leo Santa Cruz is one of the most dynamic boxers in a deep division that features outstanding boxers,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Santa Cruz is never in a boring fight. His high volume punching is highlighted by its accuracy and efficiency, making him a master ring tactician. Miguel Flores always comes to battle and has caught a couple tough breaks. But a victory over Santa Cruz could reverse his ring fortunes. Omar Figueroa vs. John Molina Jr. Enough said. You know what they do.”
“Leo Santa Cruz and Miguel Flores were both born in Michoacán and they have the blood of the proud Aztec warriors flowing through them,” said Richard Schaefer, Chairman and CEO of Ringstar Sports. “Between them they have 61 fights and 58 wins! For them, February 16 is not just going to be another fight, for them it is about pride and country. The huge audience on FOX and FOX Deportes will be in for a treat and so will be the thousands in attendance at the Microsoft Theatre at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. What a way to start the New Year!”
A three-division world champion fighting out of Los Angeles, Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) enters this fight after completing a second exciting duel against Abner Mares that again saw Santa Cruz edge his rival on the scorecards. The 30-year-old will make the third defense of his title after he claimed the 126-pound belt from Carl Frampton in 2017, avenging the defeat he suffered to Frampton the year before. Santa Cruz has competed in title bouts in 15 of his last 17 fights, while picking up belts at 118, 122 and 126-pounds.
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“I trained really hard for this fight like I do all my fights and I’m really focused and determined to get the win, because I know that after this one, I want to clean up the division,” said Santa Cruz. “I’m not overlooking my opponent at all. The main thing is I have to get this win and look great against Miguel Flores. I want to beat Flores and continue to show the world that I’m one of the best. After defeating Flores, I’ll be ready to clean up the division. I just have to be smart and not be too wild because I want to get the knockout and look spectacular. I know if I can be calm, I can do what I have to do.”
Flores (23-2, 11 KOs) was born in Mexico, but was raised and fights out of Houston. The 26-year-old rose up the rankings with victories over Ryan Kielczweski, Ruben Tamayo and Mario Briones. After suffering a setback defeat to Dat Nguyen, Flores was ahead on the scorecards against Chris Avalos in a fight on FS1 when the contest was stopped due to a cut on Flores’ eyebrow that was controversially ruled to have come from a punch. Flores bounced back in his last fight to stop Raul Chirino in April.
“We’re taking this fight very seriously and we understand that we’re going against the top featherweight in the division,” said Flores. “We know he’s looking to unify, but he has to first worry about me on February 16. We have to stay focused and smart. We know Leo likes to have brawls and he likes to throw a lot of punches. We have to be smart and box when we want to box and fight when we want to fight. We have to stick to our game plan.”
Figueroa (27-0-1, 19 KOs) made a name for himself with his relentless style that led to him capturing a lightweight title against Nihito Arakawa in a memorable 2013 clash. Representing Weslaco, Texas, Figueroa went on to defend his title twice before defeating former multiple-division champion Ricky Burns in 2015. The 29-year-old followed that up with a victory over Antonio DeMarco and after an injury layoff, came back in 2017 to drop Robert Guerrero five times on his way to a stoppage victory on FOX.
“I’m approaching this fight as something huge, and as a catalyst to even bigger things,” said Figueroa. “This is like the last leg of my career considering I just turned 29 a few weeks ago. I know it’s cliché to say it’s a crossroads, career-defining fight, but it is. I’m using this as building my case to take over the boxing world. I don’t think there’s any secret to my strategy. We all know how I fight. I plan to steam roll over him and get him out of there as quickly as possible. The thing that kills my opponents is they know what’s coming and they can’t stop it.”
Molina (30-7, 24 KOs) has never backed down from a challenge and has been in the ring with some of the best boxers from lightweight to welterweight during his career. The 35-year-old from Covina, California beat a fierce Ruslan Provodnikov by unanimous decision in 2016. Another standout battle from Molina’s career saw him drop former welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse twice before losing on an 11th round knockout. In his last fight he scored a fourth round TKO victory over Ivan Redkach in a back-and-forth bout from last December on FS1.
“This fight has been a long time coming, I’ve personally asked for it for three or four years now and it’s finally here,” said Molina. “I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas day to open my gifts. I’m crazily excited to open this gift. I have to be myself and I believe it will be a victory for me. Omar is no slouch. It’s tough to beat a guy who doesn’t like to lose and doesn’t know how to lose. He’s got that zero on his record for a reason. It’s going to a very entertaining fight. I believe this is the fight of the night and we’re going to steal the show.”