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  • By Miguel Maravilla Photos by Suzanne Teresa

Leo Santa Cruz Begins Preparation

WBA featherweight super champion and two-division world titlist Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs) of Lincoln Heights by way of Huetamo, Michoagan has began his preparation as he will take on former world champion Kiko Martinez (34-6, 25 KOs) of Spain next month Saturday February 27. We caught up with Santa Cruz as he talked about opening camp and his next fight.

"My upcoming fight on February 27, I thought it was going to be against Lee Selby in a unification fight, but then I was told I would be fighting Kiko Martinez. He is a great fighter it will be a good fight," Leo Santa Cruz told Southern California

Santa Cruz is working with his brother’s former world champion Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Antonio, Roberto, and his father Jose Santa Cruz at the Who’s Next Boxing Academy in Industry, California.

"Everything is going great, we started sparring my conditioning is great but I pick it up fast during camp. We will be ready for February 27th to give the fans a great fight and show like always," Santa Cruz on camp.

Coming off the biggest win of his career, Santa Cruz won a unanimous decision over former world champion Abner Mares this past summer at the Staples Center in what was billed as the Battle of L.A.

"It was very big and important for me. Everyone was saying I was a cherry picker. So against Mares I should them I am a great fighter and I shut there mouth,” Santa Cruz on his win over Mares.

Now he will set his sights on the former world champion Martinez.

The former world champion Martinez won his first world title in 2013 with a sixth round TKO over Jonathan Romero. He had two title defenses before losing it to current undefeated junior featherweight champion Carl Frampton. Martinez is coming off two straight wins as he won a unanimous decision over Everth Briceno in his last fight in Spain.

"He comes forward, pressures and he is a shorter fighter throws a lot of hooks and has great power but we will have a great plan to get the win," Santa Cruz on Martinez.

A win over Martinez look for Santa Cruz to call out names in 2016. The featherweight division is currently one of the most talented. With the likes of WBO champion Vasyl Lomachenko, WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. and IBF champion Lee Selby.

"126 is a stacked division you have all them great fighters. I want to fight the best and win more titles. I think Lomachenko is the most skilled and dangerous of the most. He is a lefty with a great punch and is a very smart fighter," Santa Cruz said. "Hopefully this year we get the big fights that we want. Like against Gary Russell, Lomachenko, Lee Selby, Cuellar, Frampton, or Quigg,"

Other potential fights include the winner of the Super bantamweight unification between Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg as those two will be fighting earlier that day across the pond.

"I want the winner of that fight hopefully we get passed this fight. I am going to call out the winner of Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg whoever wins I want him," Santa Cruz said. "I think they both have great styles and come forward. Quigg is taller so that is that advantage he has, that he can box him. I think whoever catches who first can win it because they both have power. If I had a choice I would fight Frampton because he has bigger wins and bigger names so that can prove he is the better fighter," Santa Cruz added.

With his goals are set for 2016, Santa Cruz has also begun his latest venture in establishing his promotional company, Last Round Promotions. The goal will be to promote fight cards and talent throughout the southern California area making the next champion.

"The promotion is going great we are having a show February 6 at the Radisson in Ontario. Then again in March, everything is looking great hopefully the fans support and come watch the fights," Santa Cruz said. "Last Round Promotions we want to create like myself opportunities. We want to look for great talent to give them the opportunity to show what they got and help them get up there, where I'm at now. We are going to find the next champ," Santa Cruz added.

Santa Cruz vs. Martinez will be a scheduled 12 round featherweight bout. Although no venue, location, or networks have been released the fight has been scheduled to take place in Los Angeles. The network most likely to telecast will be PBC affiliates CBS, NBC, ESPN, or FOX. As far as venue, with the Forum being booked for concerts, Staples Center hosting the Kings, that leaves us with Anaheim’s Honda Center, Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, and the Stub Hub Center which has hosted some memorable fights in the past and where Santa Cruz won his first world title.

"I will go out there look explosive try to finish him in first few rounds or if not give them a great battle," Santa Cruz concluded.

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