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PBC on FOX results: Leo Santa Cruz cruises in title defense

Leo Santa Cruz won an easy decision over Rafael Rivera, as expected.

Leo Santa Cruz v Abner Mares Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Leo Santa Cruz wasn’t expected to face much of a challenge tonight against Rafael Rivera, and, well, he didn’t, cruising to a decision on unanimous scores of 119-109, which is also the score that BLH had.

Rivera (26-3-2, 17 KO) did he best he could, but he was overmatched against Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KO) and the fight was never particularly competitive. This was he anticipated result, as Rivera had come in having lost two of his last three fights, and wasn’t considered a serious contender by anyone. He was a late replacement for Miguel Flores, but to be fair Flores wasn’t considered a serious opponent for Santa Cruz, either.

Santa Cruz retained his WBA “super world” featherweight title with the win, and said after the fight that he wants to face titleholders Gary Russell Jr or Josh Warrington next, and also mentioned a potential third fight with Carl Frampton, who is coming off of a clear loss to Warrington.

Santa Cruz dominated the fight statistically, landing 334 of 1,273 (26%) total punches and 258 of 792 (33%) power punches. Rivera landed 151 of 80 (19%) total punches and 150 of 612 (25%) power shots.

In the welterweight co-feature, Omar Figueroa Jr remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over John Molina Jr. This was a good, gritty fight between a couple of fighters who aren’t afraid to mix it up, and it lived up to action hopes for the most part.

But the scores were a little questionable. Figueroa (28-0-1, 19 KO) took the W on tallies of 97-93, 98-92, and 99-91. BLH had it 96-94 for Figueroa, while FOX had it 96-94 for Molina. It was really that kind of fight — either fighter winning a narrow decision would have been understandable, but 8-2 and 9-1 cards for Figueroa are a little tougher to figure at first glance. The winner isn’t a problem, but at least two of the judges saw this one wider than it seemed most did.

CompuBox did see Figueroa outlanding Molina 241-159. Molina was the busier fighter, throwing 751 punches to Figueroa’s 668. Both landed good shots, but Figueroa did visibly hurt Molina more often.

In the televised opener, prospect Sebastian Fundora improved to 12-0 (8 KO) with a third round stoppage of Donnie Marshall (10-1, 6 KO) in a junior middleweight fight that was set for eight rounds.

Fundora, who stands 6’7” and says he can make the welterweight limit, is an interesting young fighter just because of his ridiculous dimensions. At 21, he has a lot of growing to do, but right now he’s fun to watch offensively, and he was able to show that against Marshall, dropping his opponent in the third round before finishing him off standing at 1:08.

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