clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Santa Cruz: My father is the real champion

Leo Santa Cruz talks about the importance of having his father by his side who is battling cancer.

2018 Showtime Championship Boxing Event Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

As WBA featherweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) gets ready to rematch Abner Mares on June 9th at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, the champion talks to ESPN about how important his father is in his fight preparations.

“He is truly battling cancer. The real champion here is my father,” said Santa Cruz when asked about having his father, Jose Santa Cruz, who is facing multiple myeloma cancer, right in his corner. “He has been fighting. Despite the fact he is constantly in pain, he always goes to the gym, he never gives up, and even if he doesn’t feel well, he is always there for me.”

Santa Cruz continues by saying that he always notices when his father isn’t in the gym and that there’s a feeling that something’s missing, but whenever he is around he’s training diligently without a care in the world. In fact the only time Jose Santa Cruz wasn’t in his son’s corner, as he was coping with cancer, Leo took his first loss against Carl Frampton in 2016.

But after mentioning the 13 rounds of sparring his father likes to have him do in order to be fully prepared for fight night, Santa Cruz says that he’ll enter this rematch smarter and equipped with the right punches and combinations to deal with Mares.

With a second win over Mares, Santa Cruz says his aims to unify the titles, even mentioning the possibility of facing Gary Russell Jr.

“I’m ready to unify titles facing any featherweight champion,” Santa Cruz said. “Gary Russell Jr. and I have already fought against each other as amateurs. He did beat me, but it was a great fight and I think I can beat him. I hope I can have a rematch.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bad Left Hook Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your global boxing news from Bad Left Hook