Leo Santa Cruz will face former training mate Manuel Roman this Saturday night on Showtime pay-per-view, in the main co-feature undercard bout beneath the the Floyd Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana main event. And although the fight is really a lousy world title matchup, Santa Cruz will be defending his WBC super bantamweight belt, and is doing his best to sell Roman as a legitimate challenger.
"I know Roman is a great fighter and he throws good punches. I can't look past him and we had one of the hardest camps I've had and are very ready," Santa Cruz said Tuesday."
"Fighters like Roman are dangerous. They come with everything and sometimes they surprise you. We don't underestimate anybody and we always come ready. We train harder and for longer and with more routines than ever. I know Roman boxes very well and has good defense. It might be hard to knock him out but we train very hard to stop him before the 12th round."
Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KO) couldn't help but mention what he wants to do next, though, naming 122-pound ruler Guillermo Rigondeaux, IBF titleholder Carl Frampton, and paper champion Scott Quigg -- who also fights on Saturday in the United Kingdom -- as targets.
"Hopefully we get the victory and we can fight Rigondeaux and make that happen. If not, hopefully Frampton or Scott Quigg," he said.
Roman (17-2-3, 6 KO) is a non-contender who is here because, well, who knows? Because Al Haymon advises Santa Cruz, and sometimes (too often), world title fights like this happen in boxing. Roman, 26, certainly knows he's the underdog, and that nobody expects him to win.
"We're here to try to disappoint Leo Santa Cruz on Saturday. I've been working out very hard three times a day and also focusing on strength and conditioning," he said. "Nothing worries me. I know myself, I'm ready. He's just a great fighter who throws a lot of punches, but I'm a better boxer.
"I've known Leo for a while, we used to train together and that builds my confidence up. I'm a great counter-puncher and he's a slugger and I think that works to my advantage."