Santa Cruz vs. Rivera Live Results
Leo Santa Cruz will look for a third consecutive defense of the WBA (Super) Featherweight Title, and his fourth overall, as he faces the challenge of Rafael Rivera
The title fight headlines a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) card tonight at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. Santa Cruz was originally scheduled to face Miguel Flores, but injury prevented that fight from happening, and Rivera stepped in on three weeks’ notice.
Already a former IBF bantamweight champion and WBC super bantamweight champion, Santa Cruz originally won the WBA title with a majority decision win over Abner Mares back in August 2015. Santa Cruz went on to make one defense of the title before losing it to Carl Frampton back in July 2016, the first loss of Santa Cruz’s career. In his next bout, he regained the title with another majority decision. Since then, Santa Cruz has made two defenses — an eighth-round knockout of Chris Avalos in October 2017 and a unanimous decision win in a rematch with Mares last June.
Rivera most recently defeated Jose Ramos by knockout last October, rebounding from back-to-back losses to Joseph Diaz and Joet Gonzalez in WBO-NABO Featherweight Title fights — the first two losses of Rivera’s career.
WBA (Super) Featherweight Championship: (c.) Leo Santa Cruz def. Rafael Rivera via unanimous decision (119-109, 119-109, 119-109)
Welterweight Bout: Omar Figueroa Jr. def. John Molina Jr. via unanimous decision (97-93, 98-92, 99-91)
Super Welterweight Bout: Sebastian Fundora def. Donnie Marshall via KO (Rd. 3, 1:08)
WBA (Super) Featherweight Championship: (c.) Leo Santa Cruz vs. Rafael Rivera
Round 1: The two feeling each other out in the center of the ring. Right hand by Santa Cruz. Rivera throws a couple of fast combinations. The two exchange punches to the body. Santa Cruz more on the back foot, trying to figure Rivera out. Each throws a couple of punches to the body. Both men exchange late in the round, with Santa Cruz landing several quick body shots.
Round 2: Santa Cruz misses an overhand right. Cruz continuing to aim for the body. Rivera looking to land a nice counterpunch. Rivera works the jab, but misses a right uppercut. Santa Cruz misses one right but comes back with another. Rivera throws a left and is on the back foot. Rivera misses another left. Santa Cruz looking for an uppercut on the inside. Santa Cruz with an uppercut to the body. Combination by Rivera, and Santa Cruz comes back with a left uppercut. Santa Cruz with a punch to Rivera’s left side. Santa Cruz continuing to try to work on the inside. Rivera is throwing but he’s not being very accurate. The two exchange hard to end the round.
Round 3: Santa Cruz continues to aim for the body, and Rivera attempts to fire back quickly. Cruz lands another body shot, which is answered by Rivera. The two exchange in close. Santa Cruz works the left jab again. Left by Rivera. Santa Cruz with a left jab. Rivera tries counterpunching again but he misses everything. Santa Cruz working the body some more. One-two by Rivera, followed by a one-two from Santa Cruz. Each lands a nice left before another brief exchange before the bell.
Round 4: A couple of one-twos from Santa Cruz. Rivera now on the front foot. The two get in close once again. Rivera lands a left but misses a big right. Left from Rivera. Rivera gets Santa Cruz in a corner, but the defending champ quickly gets out of there. Santa Cruz working the body once more, but Rivera lands a nice left. Left body punch by Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz looks like he’s trying to catch Rivera when the challenger fires away.
Round 5: A couple of punches from Santa Cruz to start. A few lefts from Santa Cruz, as he continues to use his jab effectively. One-two from the champ. Left to the body from Santa Cruz. Weak combination by Santa Cruz to the body. Some more exchanging in close. A couple of lefts to the body by Santa Cruz answered with a left by Rivera. Uppercut by Santa Cruz. Rivera trying to get in, but Santa Cruz isn’t letting him. Rivera misses a power shot, and Santa Cruz lands a counter. Santa Cruz seems to have been controlling the fight early on and hasn’t let it go.
Round 6: Ref pauses the action for an accidental low shot. Right hand by Santa Cruz. Another right by Santa Cruz. Cruz now looking for a combination, while Rivera seems to be looking for one or two strong shots to shift the momentum. One-two by Rivera but he’s countered by body shots from the champ. Weak overhand, followed by a one-two from the challenger. Santa Cruz misses a right uppercut. Santa Cruz continues to land, not with power but with accuracy. Weak left jab from Rivera. A left from Santa Cruz caught Rivera, but the challenger seemed to catch the champ with a left of his own.
Round 7: One-two from Santa Cruz. Rivera continuing to stand in front of Santa Cruz, looking for an opening. Santa Cruz throws a left, coming after Rivera. Combination from Santa Cruz misses. Santa Cruz works the left jab but catches Rivera with a right. Left hand by Santa Cruz, Rivera comes back with a hook. Santa Cruz looking to land inside some more. Santa Cruz has landed about twice as many punches as Rivera has in this fight. Right hand by Santa Cruz. Combination by Santa Cruz. Rivera lands a couple of lefts, but Santa Cruz gets out of the way of his follow-ups.
Round 8: Rivera working the left jab, but Santa Cruz lands a right to the head. Santa Cruz on the front foot, coming after Rivera and looking to work the body yet again. Right by Santa Cruz. Another from Santa Cruz, and Rivera tries to answer back but doesn’t land much. Three punches thrown by Santa Cruz. Rivera tries a one-two. Combination by Santa Cruz. Rivera gets backed into a corner but gets out quickly. Right hand by Santa Cruz. Rivera misses a couple and gets tagged again.
Round 9: Pace has definitely slowed early in the ninth, as neither has landed much significantly in the first minute. The two get in close. Right by Rivera. Santa Cruz avoids a couple more of the challenger’s punches. Santa Cruz lands a combination. Right by Santa Cruz. Each throws a jab. Santa Cruz gets inside some more. Left by Santa Cruz. Rivera lands a left to the head. Santa Cruz works the jab, and Rivera misses. The two exchange flurries, each landing some. One-two from Rivera, but he’s tagged with a counterpunch. Rivera throws a big flurry and he catches Santa Cruz with a hard right before the bell.
Round 10: Left misses by Leo Santa Cruz. Small combo by Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz trying to get inside again, while Rivera looks like he’s trying to land big and go for broke at the right moment. Rivera misses a BIG uppercut. Small combination from Santa Cruz. The two exchanging on the inside, Santa Cruz landing some to the body. Santa Cruz with a left hook to the body. A small flurry from Rivera. The two exchange flurries before the bell.
Round 11: Rivera coming after Santa Cruz with his left jab. Santa Cruz trying to use his own left jab in return. Right hand by Santa Cruz. Left by Santa Cruz. Small combination by Santa Cruz. Both look for the body in an exchange. Rivera gets Santa Cruz boxed in against the ropes, but he misses a combination. Santa Cruz lands a right and he doesn’t look to be in danger. Rivera misses a big uppercut. Santa Cruz tagging Rivera some, and Rivera tries to answer back strong but doesn’t land much before the bell.
Round 12: Santa Cruz with a few punches to the body to start. Another combination from Santa Cruz. Rivera misses a combo. Right thrown by Santa Cruz, but Rivera fires away, getting Santa Cruz’s back to the ropes. Santa Cruz with a left to the body. Rivera gets the champ’s back to the ropes once more but can’t seem to do much. Left by Rivera. Small flurry by Rivera. Left by Rivera as the two exchange in close. Weak one-two by Santa Cruz. Right by Santa Cruz. Right by Rivera. The two exchange hard, wild flurries as the bout comes to a close.
Official Decision: (c.) Leo Santa Cruz def. Rafael Rivera via unanimous decision (119-109, 119-109, 119-109)