World Boxing Association (WBA) Super Champion Leo Santa Cruz scored a unanimous decision against a game challenger in Rafael Rivera to retain his title at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. The judges scorecards all read 119-109 as he out-threw and out-landed the tough veteran Rivera, who came to fight but simply could not keep the same pace.
Santa Cruz threw over 1200 punches in the fight, a normally astonishing figure at over 100 per round, but for “El Terremoto” this is not unusual as he is one of the highest volume punchers in the world who always comes to please the audience. Rivera was very game and tough but did not have the same firepower as the champion, despite standing and trading at times.
With the win, Santa Cruz successfully completed the third defense of his crown, which he won in January of 2017 in his rematch against Carl Frampton. Previously, he had already held the belt between August 2015 to July 2016, which is when he lost to Frampton in their first fight. During that time he made a successful defense of the title against Kiko Martinez before the defeat and subsequent recovery of the belt.
Santa Cruz was initially slated to face Miguel Flores but an injury took Flores out of the fight, which is when Rivera was appointed for the match. It was the first title fight for the 24-year-old challenger despite having already faced other good fighters such as Joseph Diaz and Joet Gonzalez.
With the victory Santa Cruz moved his record to 36 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw, and 19 knockouts while Rivera now has a record of 26 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws, and 17 wins by knockout.