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  • By Miguel Maravilla Photo by Scott Hirano Showtime

Leo Santa Cruz & Road to Redemption

Former three-division world champion Leo "El Terremoto" Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) of Lincoln Heights, California by way of Huetamo, Michoacan, Mexico is gearing up for his rematch against undefeated featherweight world champion Carl "The Jackal" Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) of Belfast, Ireland taking place Saturday January 28th at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas live on Showtime. We caught up with Santa Cruz as he talked about his upcoming rematch with Frampton. “We are a few weeks away and I can’t wait for the rematch,” Leo Santa Cruz told Southern California “I wanted this rematch and I don’t want to suffer another loss to Frampton,” Santa Cruz added. It was last year that Santa Cruz suffered his first pro defeat to Carl Frampton by unanimous decision in a fight of the year candidate in what was a battle between two undefeated featherweights at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The former champion talked about his first career loss as he went into hostile territory to take on the Irish star. Being a west coast fighter one can argue that New York was definitely Frampton’s backyard as the Barclays Center was a pro Frampton crowd filled with massive chants and the waving of Irish flags. “It will be different this time the judges will be from Vegas and not New York. The last time everything was different he had most of his people cheering him on. I don’t like to make excuses but the people there chanting for any little thing he did probably persuade the judges,” Santa Cruz on the last fight. “I take nothing away from him he is a great fighter,” Santa Cruz added. The 28 year old also feels he didn’t have the perfect strategy going into the fight with Frampton. “The mistake I made in the ring was we did not have a plan to beat him. My brother and I were training one way and once we got to New York, my dad wanted me to fight another way,” Santa Cruz on the strategy the last fight. “So we got frustrated, the mistake was we didn’t go with the plan. We adjusted but it was too late. What I did was pressure him with one or two punches. I had to throw combinations. This time we will be a lot smarter, attack, throw combinations, and move,” Santa Cruz added. Following the loss, Santa Cruz exercised his right to a rematch clause as he is determined to avenge his only loss. Less than six months later Santa Cruz got his wish with the rematch taking place in Las Vegas, the fight capital of the world. “Last time I saw him was here in LA at the press conference we have great respect for each other. He is a great fighter but once we get in the ring everything is different,” Santa Cruz “I am closer to home now. I have fought there and I feel comfortable there. I know he will have his people there because Vegas it’s a tourist destination and that’s where all the big fights happen. He will have a lot of people there supporting because we will do what we have to do,” Santa Cruz added. With the rematch set Santa Cruz has been in camp training at the Who’s Next Boxing Academy in Industry, California, Santa Cruz has held a full camp with his head trainer and father Jose Santa Cruz along with the support of his brothers assistant trainer Antonio & former world champion Jose Armando. “Preparation has been great for me. I have had my dad with me he has been pushing and motivating me,” Santa Cruz said about camp. “We lost to Frampton and this time we are training really hard,” There was a set back in the last camp as the family patriarch was diagnosed with cancer limiting his role in camp for what was Leo’s biggest fight to date adding some distraction to the preparation. “The last camp I was training and everything but this camp I feel stronger. My dad and my brothers they have all seen the difference this time we will get the win,” Santa Cruz said. With the holidays passing, camp has been full of joy for the Santa Cruz family. Despite the celebrations and holiday food, Santa Cruz maintained his camp routine taking no time off. “The holidays were good I trained and also got to spend time with the family on Christmas and New Years. I ate a lot and had tamales but I’m on track with my weight. I feel good I’m only like 5 pounds over,” Santa Cruz on training during the holidays. The road to redemption continues as Santa Cruz will spend the next two weeks grinding it out in camp as the showdown with the “Jackal” is three weeks away. Will it be repeat or revenge? “I want to show that I am better than Frampton. This time we will show you the real Leo Santa Cruz,” Santa Cruz promised. Frampton vs. Santa Cruz II will be a scheduled 12 round championship fight for Frampton’s WBA featherweight title as Santa Cruz will look to regain his title and even the score with the Irish star. “I think this will be even better than the first fight. I wasn’t all there the first time. It was still a great fight but this time I will be a lot better and I know Frampton is going to be better prepared for the rematch.” Santa Cruz stated. “I want to make this better than the first fight,” Santa Cruz concluded. Follow Miguel on Twitter @MigMaravilla

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