Leo Santa Cruz is Coming to Town

Corey Erdman / December 12, 2012 - 3:51pm

Boxing may have had its biggest moment of the year this past weekend as Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao, but its most important moment is set to take place on Saturday.

The sport will return to network television on CBS at 4 p.m. ET, as Leo Santa Cruz defends his IBF bantamweight strap against Alberto Guevara.

As many eyes as Pacquiao-Marquez attracted, any presentation on cable television has the ability to draw many, many more.

“I want to go out there and finish the year strong and to get a knockout, so that the year can be good. I want to get my fans involved,” said Santa Cruz during Monday’s media conference call. “This a chance for my fans to really get to know me. I’m getting great exposure.”

Throughout the year, Golden Boy Promotions has tried at length to bring the sport to CBS. First, the plan was to have Canelo Alvarez fight on the network, but a series of setbacks from potential opponents resulted in him facing Josesito Lopez on Showtime instead. Similarly, a plan was tentatively in place to have the crop of 2012 Olympians choosing to turn pro to fill out a card on cable, but that one wound up on Showtime recently as well.

It’s all turned out for the best, however.

The Olympic Edition of ShoBox was dreadfully boring, as was to be expected for a lineup of outstanding amateurs facing overmatched club fighters. It’s possible that feeding that to the masses would have killed boxing’s chances of existing on cable for a long time.

Instead, the masses will get to see one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport. Santa Cruz may throw more punches per round than any fighter on the planet, and no matter how one-sided the bout with Guevara could turn out to be, it sure won’t be boring.

Moreover, boxing runs almost uncontested on the dial this Saturday afternoon. Outside of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the sports selection is scarce—no hockey, no basketball, no professional football.

It’s an opportunity that Santa Cruz says he couldn’t pass up, despite having fought four times already this year.

“They even asked me. They told me that if I was ready and asked if I wanted to go back and fight, and I was like, “Yeah, I want to fight.” But they told me that it was up to me,” said Santa Cruz. “I decided to fight, because I want to finish the year strong, and after this one, I’m going to take a little rest. Hopefully, everything goes well on this one, and I’ll take some rest, and come back stronger for next year.”

The Mexican-American phenom has overshadowed what is supposed to be the main attraction of the event overall.

While he will headline the CBS portion of the card, it will continue well into the night, where Amir Khan headlines the Showtime telecast against Carlos Molina.

Khan is coming off a devastating knockout loss at the hands of Danny Garcia in July, and is trying to get on the right track before the end of 2012. In order to do that, he has left longtime trainer Freddie Roach and enlisted the help of Virgil Hunter—a renowned trainer with a few less clients, and more time on his hands to dedicate to Khan.

“I know it is a make or break fight for me, that’s why I’m taking it so seriously,” said Khan. “A win is a win and I will be sticking to the plan and sticking to the instructions from the corner instead of getting too wild. People will still see an exciting Amir Khan, but now I’m a more mature fighter.”

The Brit’s attitude is reflective of the public’s reaction to the fight thus far. It’s viewed simply as a bounce-back fight that Khan should be able to win handily if he remains careful and under control.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated well into ticket sales.

Against Garcia and Marcos Maidana, Khan’s bouts floundered at the box office, and this one appears to be no different. However, Golden Boy is making the most of it, and offering fans a ticket to the bout if they bring a toy donation along with them.

It’s a kind move on the part of Oscar De La Hoya, who can both spread holiday cheer, and fill up an otherwise empty arena at the same time.

“I am looking forward to distributing the toys to those families who need them most,” said de la Hoya.

You sure can’t say Golden Boy isn’t in the giving mood this week.

Photo: Gene Blevins / Hoganphotos / Golden Boy Promotions