The featherweight world champion of the World Boxing Association (WBA), the Mexican Leo Santa Cruz, retained his crown by overcoming by unanimous decision in 12 rounds to his compatriot Rafael Rivera.
In fight held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles (California), he met the predictions of going out with the hand held high, since the champion in three divisions was the favorite to win.
From the beginning of the fight he was dominant to get a comfortable victory in the main event of the evening “Premier Boxing Champions”.
The three judges scored scores of 119-109 for Santa Cruz, who retained his 126-pound (57,152-kilogram) belt for the third time.
Santa Cruz punished with constant beatings to the body of Rivera and also applied powerful right uppercuts to the head of the aspirant.
Rivera did not show enough quality to get the victory, but he did a brave fight, always trying to box forward and looking for the way to make a short boxing, due to his shorter stature.
Rivera, 24, who left his mark at 26-3-2 with 17 nominations, accepted the fight with only three weeks in advance when the original rival of Santa Cruz was the Mexican-American, born in Houston, Miguel Flores, who suffered a Ankle injury during training had to be removed.
Despite the short time he had of preparation, Rivera showed a great background and above all gave a display of admirable effort to be always competitive.
His best moment came in the final seconds of the ninth round when he hit a pair of right hands that made Santa Cruz feel punished and his legs failed.
Rivera lost control of his fight in the final round, while Santa Cruz faithfully followed his fight tactics in the distance and with selective punishment.
Santa Cruz, 30, with numbers of 36-1-1 and 19 nominations, won a bag of one million dollars (888,000 euros) for 20,000 dollars (17,000 euros) that Rivera received.
According to statistics from CompuBox, Santa Cruz connected 334 of 1,273 hits (26 percent) and Rivera 151 of 805 (19 percent).