On October 14 Leo Santa Cruz will begin his second reign as WBA featherweight champion at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California. Santa Cruz first captured the title from Abner Mares on August 29, 2015. He defended it once before losing it to, and recapturing it from, Carl Frampton in two consecutive grueling fights. When a rematch with Abner Mares couldn't get finalized to take place before the end of this year, Santa Cruz chose to defend against Chris Avalos, a dangerous, heavy-handed former title challenger coming off his best win in years. In a fight that features two Mexican-Americans from Southern California with aggressive come forward styles, an action packed, high contact fight is guaranteed, a decisions is not.
Avalos is fresh off a win over Miguel Flores, who capitulated when he thought a cut that was caused by an Avalos punch was going to be ruled as an accidental head-butt and force the fight to go to the cards where he would have won on points. Fortuantely for Avalos the commission got it right and he now finds himself with the opportunity of a lifetime, one that seemed impossible a year ago, an opportunity to make his dreams come true and become the featherweight champion of the world.
"This is what I've been waiting my whole life for. This is what I wanted and it's going to be an all action fight for the fans. I'm feeling really strong right now in camp. I think this is going to be one of the best fights this year, if not the best fight this year, but I'm not looking for fight of the year, I'm looking for the knockout of the year," said Avalos.
Santa Cruz and Avalos know each other very well, there is a mutual respect between the two combatants who have already shared the same ring during various training camps. "I've known Leo for a long time, we've sparred too many rounds against each other to even count. We grew up together, so I have a couple of combinations that I know I can catch him with and I plan on using those on October 14. I have certain tactics that I know will work against him and I also plan on using those."
Avalos is the the underdog for a reason, Santa Cruz is a multi-division world champion who has already defeated two elite level boxers. It's easy to think Avalos has no chance to pull the upset, but Avalos possesses knockout power that has upended many big favorites over the years. According to Avalos, Santa Cruz is "a very good fighter, but I'm the better fighter, the stronger fighter and that's going to show when the bell rings."
When asked if he feels disrespected with the way he's being overlooked, Avalos replied "A lot of people are overlooking me in this fight, but it doesn't bother me none. I'm going to go out there and shock the world, but not myself or anybody on my team. This is a life changer for me, so that only gives me extra motivation. Just thinking about this opportunity that I have in front of me excites me and I'm going to make sure I don't let it slip through my fingers. My life changes for the better on October 14 and I can't wait!.
While Tom Brown, the CEO of TGB Promotions and co-promoter of the October 14 isn't ready to predict any upsets he also believes Avalos is being overlooked. "Look, Avalos can crack. He's got one of the ten best knockouts to ever take place on Shobox according to Steve Farhood," an astute observation referring to the devastating right hand Avalos landed against Giovanni Caro. Brown continued, "There's a reason three of the last four ring magazine fight of the years have taken place at the Stub Hub Center in Carson California, there's magic in that tunnel and on October 14 someone will engage in a battle that will never be forgotten."