Leo Santa Cruz vs. Rafael Rivera Fox Preview & Undercard

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Los Angeles, CA (February 6th, 2018)– It will be anything goes, and sparks will fly, at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, on February 16, 2019, when Leo ‘El Terremoto’ Santa Cruz of Mexico will defend his World Boxing Association Super World Featherweight title against Rafael ‘Big Bang’ Rivera of Mexico in the main event of a 15 bout USA Fox card promoted by Tom Brown’s TGB Promotions.

Santa Cruz, age 30, 35-1-1 with 19 knockouts, Rosemead, California, by way of Huetamo, Mexico, who was supposed to defend his world title against the injured Abner Mares, will now face Rivera, age 24, 26-2-2 with 17 knockouts, Tijuana, Mexico. Rivera’s last 10 opponents have a combined 216 wins at the time he fought them, including Santa Cruz, astoundingly high quality of opposition.

Since 17 of Rivera’s bouts have ended within three rounds, including a first-round knockout of Jose Ramos this past October, Rivera’s best road is to try to knock Santa Cruz out, Ruben Olivares style, his best Mexican chance to win big in this all-Mexican war.

Rivera has won and lost 10 round split decisions, but in a 12 rounder with 24-0 Joseph Diaz in 2017, Rivera only won one round. Santa Cruz has won eight of nine bouts which have gone into the eleventh round, with seven 12 round decision wins. Santa Cruz is a fine technical fighter, and is predicted to win by 12 round unanimous decision over Rivera. Santa Cruz has over a decade of ring experience, and should do fine, unless he gets careless with Rivera, who, coming in as a late replacement for Abner Mares, looks to get lucky.

Undefeated 14-0 Carlos ‘Mexicanito’ Licona of Mexico City, Mexico, and Westminster, California, is favored to defend his International Boxing Federation World Minimumweight title by 12 round majority decision over dangerous 14-1 DeeJay Kriel of Boksburg, South Africa, the World Boxing Council International Minimumweight titleholder. 27-0-1 Omar Figueroa Jr. is favored to win by 10 round unanimous decision over John Molina Jr. in a welterweight bout. Mexican super bantamweight knockout artist Cesar Juarez will either knockout Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa, or lose a 12 round decision, depending on which fighter has the better game plan. Mexican middleweight contender Hugo Centeno Jr. and Filipino featherweight contender Marlon Tapales are also scheduled to fight on the card against opponents to be named.

Mexico’s Cesar Juarez Battles Former Champion Ryosuka Iwasa in IBF Super Bantamweight Title Eliminator & Undefeated Carlos Licona Defends IBF Junior Flyweight Championship Against South Africa’s DeeJay Kriel on Saturday, February 16 at Microsoft Theater
at L.A. Live
Plus! 2016 Olympian Karlos Balderas, Hugo Centeno, Jr. and Ivan Redkach Appear in Separate Matches in Non-Televised Action
WBA Featherweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz Defends Title Against Rafael Rivera in Main Event of Premier Boxing Champions on
FOX & FOX Deportes
LOS ANGELES (February 5, 2019) – Mexico’s Cesar Juarez battles former champion Ryosuka Iwasa of Japan in a 12-round IBF Super Bantamweight title elimination match and undefeated IBF Junior Flyweight Champion Carlos Licona of Mexico clashes with South Africa’s DeeJay Kriel in non-televised action presented by Premier Boxing Champions on Saturday, February 16 at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.

Action will also see 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas (6-0, 5 KOs) in a special six-round lightweight attraction, former title challenger Hugo Centeno, Jr. (26-2, 14 KOs) meeting Oscar Cortez (27-3, 14 KOs) in an eight-round middleweight bout and Ivan Redkach (21-4-1, 16 KOs) dueling Tyrone Harris (26-13, 16 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight match. The Balderas fight is a swing bout for the FOX and FOX Deportes telecast that will air live if time permits.
Tickets for the show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Ringstar Sports, are on sale now, and can be purchased at AXS.com.
Juarez (23-6, 17 KOs) has worked his way back into title contention since losing to Isaac Dogboe in a super bantamweight championship match last January. The 27-year-old from Mexico City fought three more times in 2018, scoring two stoppage victories and a unanimous decision over Jorge Sanchez most recently in September.
Iwasa (25-3, 16 KOs) won the IBF Super Bantamweight title with a TKO victory over Yukinori Oguni in 2017 and successfully defended it with a unanimous decision over Ernesto Saulong last March. The 29-year-old from Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan most recently lost the title by unanimous decision to T.J. Doheny in August.
Mexico’s Licona (14-0, 2 KOs) was very busy in 2018, fighting four times and winning the IBF Junior Flyweight title with a split decision over Mark Anthony Barriga on December 1. The 23-year-old from Mexico City, Mexico will be making his first title defense against the 23-year-old Kriel (14-1-1, 6 KOs). Fighting out of Johannesburg, South Africa, he will compete for the first time in the U.S. and is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Xolisa Magusha in March.

Non-televised undercard action also features unbeaten prospect Jose Gomez (11-0, 4 KOs) facing Jorge Luis Guzman (5-2-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round super featherweight bout, undefeated super featherweight prospect Jerry Perez (10-0, 7 KOs) meeting Ivan Benitez (12-2, 4 KOs) in a four-round match and a six-round super featherweight clash between Neri Ariel Romero (11-0, 7 KOs) and Roxberg Patrick Riley (13-1, 7 KOs).
Rounding out the card is undefeated super lightweight prospect Julian Rodarte (14-0-1, 6 KOs) competing against Miguel Mendoza (23-15-2, 22 KOs) in an eight-round match, Philippine featherweight and former world champion Marlon Tapales (31-2, 14 KOs) stepping in for a 10-round attraction and the pro debut of Shon Mondragon in a four-round super bantamweight fight.
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Rafael Rivera is a Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX
Deportes event that will see featherweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz take on
Mexico’s Rafael Rivera in the main event Saturday, February 16 from Microsoft Theater
at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features unbeaten former champion Omar Figueroa battling hard-hitting John Molina Jr. and a matchup between unbeaten prospects Sebastien Fundora and Donnie Marshall.
For more information: visit www.premierboxingchampions.com, http://www.foxsports.com/presspass/homepageand www.foxdeportes.com, follow on Twitter @PremierBoxing, @PBConFOX, @FOXSports, @FOXDeportes, @TGBPromotions, @Ringstar and @Swanson_Comm or become a fan on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/PremierBoxingChampions, www.facebook.com/foxsports and www.facebook.com/foxdeportes.



Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert is the Head Boxing Correspondent for Real Combat Media Boxing since 2013. Robert is also a photographer and ringside reporter for the RCM Tri State region which includes NJ, NY and PA. Robert conducts exclusive interviews, provides historical boxing articles and provides editorial ringside coverage of major boxing events. You can contact or follow Robert on Facebook and by email at robertbrizel@realcombatmedia.com.