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Leo Santa Cruz vs Miguel Flores set for Feb. 16

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It’s not the fight anyone wanted, but it’s a fight that’s going to happen.

FOX Sports and Premier Boxing Champions Press Conference Experience Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

While boxing fans were hoping to hear news of Leo Santa Cruz facing Gary Russell Jr in a featherweight unification, Santa Cruz will instead face Miguel Flores on Feb. 16 in a FOX-televised main event from Los Angeles.

Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KO) will defend his WBA “super world” title against Flores (23-2, 11 KO), a fringe contender at best who lost a pair of fights in 2017 to Dat Nguyen and Chris Avalos, before winning an April 28 bout this year against club fighter Raul Chirino.

The 26-year-old Flores, born in Mexico and based in Houston, will be getting the chance of a lifetime here, which is the nice way to spin the matchup.

Santa Cruz, 30, has won three straight since losing a close decision to Carl Frampton in July 2016, including a Jan. 2017 rematch win over Frampton. He’s beaten Chris Avalos and Abner Mares for a second time since then, his June 9 win over Mares his only fight in 2018.

In the co-feature, it’s all but a guaranteed war between Omar Figueroa Jr (27-0-1, 19 KO) and John Molina Jr (30-7, 24 KO). Molina hasn’t fought since a Dec. 2017 knockout of Ivan Redkach, while Figueroa hasn’t been seen since stopping Robert Guerrero in July 2017.