Leo Santa Cruz UD-10 Keenan Carbajal
A one-sided fight, not a surprise with Leo Santa Cruz being a multiple-division champion and Keenan Carbajal being a pretty inexperienced, lower-tier sort of fighter, came into this fight ranked No. 109 in the world by BoxRec at featherweight.
This fight took place at 130 lbs, but Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KO) does plan to go back down to 126 and finally defend the WBA “super world” belt he hasn’t defended since 2019, with his three most recent fights all coming at 130, including a gift-wrapped WBA “super world” belt at that weight for beating Miguel Flores in 2019 for that “vacant” title, despite there being a WBA “world” champ already, and that having already been an entire debacle for a couple of years.
Anyway, scores here were 100-90, and it was easy to score, with both Wil and myself having it that way, too. You maybe could have shaded a round or so to Carbajal (23-3-1, 15 KO), but he never looked any legitimate threat to win this fight, and at 30, this is the fighter he is.
Worth noting that Santa Cruz, 33, was cut a on the right eye from a few head clashes, and that Carbajal may have hurt his shoulder, which took away any hope he had of jabbing. He was able to throw the left hand some, but not the jab, the extension of throwing the jab was a problem for him.
Hopefully, we’ll see Leo fight someone good at 126, or if not, the WBA finally strips him of that and we can all just fully recognize the Leigh Wood-Michael Conlan winner as WBA featherweight champ in March. As it stands right now, Santa Cruz should probably be ordered to face the winner of that fight, but sanctioning bodies have a long history of doing favors for favored, bigger name fighters, so we’ll see.
Jesus Ramos TKO-6 Vladimir Hernandez
A really good win for the 20-year-old Ramos, who goes to 18-0 (15 KO) with the stoppage of an extremely rugged, tough guy in Hernandez (13-5, 6 KO), whose record ain’t pretty, but if you’ve seen him fight, you know what he is. And he was coming off of a really good win over Julian “J Rock” Williams, a former titlist, so this was a legit step for Ramos.
Hernandez, 32, did give Ramos some questions to answer, but the kid answered them. This fight was bumped to the PPV after Jesus’ uncle Abel Ramos had to face replacement opponent Luke Santamaria instead of originally scheduled Josesito Lopez, which was the right call. This had more promise as an action fight, and it delivered on that promise. (Abel lost to Santamaria in an upset on the prelims, for what it’s worth.)
Ramos, who is fighting at 154 lbs as he’s just out-grown 147 before he could make a serious dent in that division, is a good-looking fighter. He’s got skills, he’s got some pop, he’s tough, and we learned mostly about that last thing tonight, because Hernandez is really, really hard to deter and keep off of you. Ramos managed to do it eventually, breaking it down bit by bit, and then hurt Hernandez in the sixth and poured on the pressure for the stoppage. When you’re impressing Teddy Atlas (who can be hard to impress), you’re a good prospect.
Luis Nery SD-10 Carlos Castro
The split decision is pretty surprising, but the right guy won. Judges had this 95-94 for Castro on one card, and 95-94 and 96-93 for Nery on the other two. Bad Left Hook’s two unofficial cards were 97-92 (mine, and I thought I’d kept it closer than many might) and 98-91 for Nery.
Nery (32-1, 24 KO) out-landed Castro (27-1, 12 KO) by a pretty healthy margin overall, though a lot of that did come in a woeful first round for Castro, where Nery put him on the canvas and out-landed him officially by 15 punches; in the final total, Nery out-landed Castro by 22 total punches.
Some of the middle rounds were close, but while Castro had his arguments, none of the rounds were really clearly in his favor, either. So the scoring is surprising but maybe not outrageously indefensible, either. You’d just have to shade all those type of rounds to Castro to get him to 95-94 either way, but I guess if you give him one of them, all of them isn’t so hard.
Nery, 27, reportedly had a hard time making weight, but he didn’t show it much in the fight. He’s a talented fighter who boxed more than normal and flashed that power early, but he’s not at 122 lbs what he was at 118, either. He’s a contender, but he doesn’t carry the same danger he did as a bantamweight, and that’s become pretty clear. But he’s a good fighter and always worth tuning in to see.