Santa Cruz Puts on Clinic, Retains Title
Leo Santa Cruz took control early in his bout against Rafael Rivera and didn’t give it up, completely outworking the challenger en route to a decision win to retain the WBA (Super) Featherweight Title.
Santa Cruz was slow to start things out in the bout, as he tried to feel out and read his challenger. Meanwhile, Rivera came out firing, throwing several combinations. While Rivera did the same in the second round, and continued as the fight progressed, he landed less and it became more and more evident that his punches were ineffective.
Santa Cruz, meanwhile, began to work the body, a strategy which he implemented well throughout the fight. While the defending the champion wasn’t landing anything so hard to rock Rivera, his accuracy was far superior and Rivera struggled to land a counterpunch he was greatly looking for.
Rivera got in a small tag late in the sixth round, but by that point Santa Cruz was already running away with the fight. In fact, by the seventh, Santa Cruz had landed approximately double what Rivera had. What may have played into Rivera’s downfall was that while he had the fighting spirit, he wasn’t changing much up and continuing to stay in front of the champion. And when he got Santa Cruz’s back to the ropes a few times, Rivera wasn’t able to take advantage.
Rivera held his own in the closing, championship rounds, and he and Santa Cruz had some late exchanging of flurries that proved entertaining. But it all wasn’t enough.
— PBC (@premierboxing) February 17, 2019
All three judges scored the contest 119-109 in Santa Cruz’s favor.