When we talk about the most fun fighters in the sport right now it's hard to argue against anyone who says Leo Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15) the WBC Super Bantamweight champion. Santa Cruz is usually an offensive machine who brings flat out pressure, relentless work rate and pure excitement. In the first defense of his Super Bantamweight title however Santa Cruz showed a different side to his boxing as he out pointed Puerto Rican Cesar Ceda (25-2, 17) by boxing as opposed to brawling.
The first 4 rounds of the bout so both men boxing. There was no flat out pressure from Leo though there was good boxing from both. Yes Leo was applying some pressure but it was much more controlled pressure than we are used to as he instead chose to fight at mid distance instead of turn the fight into a phone booth war. Through the first 4 it was difficult to separate the two men and scores of 40-36 either way would not have been that wrong.
Unfortunately for Ceda he couldn't even force Santa Cruz backwards. Instead Santa Cruz kept coming forward and landing shots upstairs and downstairs. Ceda, the faster man, was landing his own shots but every shot Santa Cruz landed seemed to be more notable and a lot of Ceda's shots were blocked or just flat out missed. The Puerto Rican was making things interesting but never managed to have the sustained success he needed to win any of the middle rounds.
What made things worse for Ceda was knockdown he had scored against him in round 5 that began Santa Cruz's run through the middle rounds, rounds of which he clearly won.
From round 5, a 10-8, through to round 10 Santa Cruz had piled up the rounds. Ceda had tried to win them but couldn't deliver the punches he needed to win them. It wasn't until round 11 that you could make a case for Ceda having won a round outside of the first 4. By that point, even being generous to Ceda, you had to have him needing a knockdown to get a draw, it was fair however to suggest he would need a knock out.
Ceda gave it a go in round 12 as the action heated up but Ceda simply didn't have the power to ever rocked Santa Cruz.
The fight was competitive but there was only ever 1 winner, this was reflected in the score cards which read 115-112, 116-111 and 117-110, all in favour of Santa Cruz who retained his WBC Super Bantamweight title.
This wasn't a typical Santa Cruz performance but it was still an impressive one and Ceda also covered himself in glory having put on a very competitive performance. Ceda would fit in with many of the top 10 in the division and will come again. He's improved markedly from his fight with Omar Andres Narvaez a few years ago, though will struggle with the real standouts in the division.