By Jack Tiernan: Leo Santa Cruz says he wants a unification fight next against WBC featherweight champion Mark Magsayo after his impressive 10 round unanimous decision win over Keenan Carbajal last Saturday night. The scores were 100-90, 100-90, and 100-90.
Santa Cruz threw nonstop punches through most of the fight despite having problems seeing out of his right eye, which had been cut from a clash of heads with the 30-year-told Carbajal. Leo was also cut over his left eye during the fight.
In a non-title fight in the chief support bout on the Keith Thurman vs. Mario Barrios card, Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KOs) defeated his bounce-back opponent Carbajal (23-3-1,15 KOs) in a war at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
Going into the fight, Santa Cruz, 33, had been out of the ring for sixteen months since losing to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis by a sixth round knockout in a super featherweight clash on October 31, 2020.
Last month on January 22nd, the 26-year-old unbeaten Magsayo (24-0,16 KOs) defeated WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. by a 12 round majority decision.
Santa Cruz calls out Magsayo
“I think I have the Mexican spirit. I come to fight and leave everything in the ring,” said Santa Cruz during last Saturday’s post-fight press conference when asked why he wants Magsayo next.
“I’m going to train hard, get stronger. Magsayo is a good opponent. He comes forward, throws a lot of punches, and he doesn’t run. He comes to fight,” said Santa Cruz.
“Mexico vs. the Philippines is always a great fight like Pacquiao vs. Marquez is going to be a great fight. “I think Magsayo is a good fighter, has great technique, and punches with power.
“I don’t know if it was because Gary Russell’s hand was injured or something. He still looked good. I don’t know what the difference would have been if Russell was 100%.
“This is boxing. We’re here to entertain the fans,” said Santa Cruz when asked why some boxers become gunshy after being knocked out. “If we’re going to get afraid, we should retire.
“Like I said, instead of getting fear from the Tank Davis fight, I got more confidence. If I was able to stay in there for a few rounds with Tank Davis, I can take anybody because Davis is a great fighter, a great puncher.
“For as long as it lasted, I was able to bang with him, do a good fight. It gave me more confidence. There’s no fear. I’m going to come to fight, and I’m always going to fight,” said Santa Cruz.
We’ll see if Magsayo’s team accepts the call out from Santa Cruz, considering they may have other ideas for his first fight as the new WBC 126-lb champion.
Magsayo spoke of potentially fighting #1 WBC contender Rey Vargas next following his win over Russell Jr, so that might be the direction he’s going in next.
Leo wants to unify at 126 next
“It was bothering me a little bit. The blood was getting into my eyes, and then when they put the vaseline in, it would go into my eyes, and I would see blurry,” continued Santa Cruz.
“But with my glove, I would take it away, and then I would be able to see for a little bit, but then again,” said Santa Cruz about the problems he had with a cut from a clash of heads against Carbajal.
“I didn’t want the fight to get stopped. I kept fighting, and I did what I could.
“First of all, the fans, they’re everything to me. When I fought against Gervonta Davis, after I did, I thought about retiring, and the fans were the ones sending messages, reaching out to me, saying, ‘Don’t give up. Keep going forward. You’ve got a lot more to give.’
“I wouldn’t be here without them,” said Santa Cruz about the boxing fans that encouraged him to keep fighting after his devastating loss to Gervonta. “Their support was absolutely key to me tonight for me to fight the way I did.
“As far as giving a name [for Santa Cruz’s next fight], I know my dad wants me to stay at 126.
“Like I said, my goal is to unify, to try and do my beat there [featherweight]. Then if there is the opportunity against someone like [Oscar] Valdez or [Shakur] Stevenson, then I’m also up to that challenge, but we’ll see what happens,” said Santa Cruz.
Assuming Magsayo isn’t going to be available for Santa Cruz’s next fight, there’s always WBO champion Emmanuel Navarrete or WBA ‘regular’ champion Leigh Wood as backup options.