Santa Cruz vs. Rivera – PBC Fight Card on FOX (Recap)

 (Photo Credit: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions)
(Photo Credit: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions)

By Cameron Buford,

Premier Boxing Champions in conjunction with FOX and FOX Deportes had another wonderful fight card this past weekend, as Featherweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz took on Mexico’s Rafael Rivera at the Microsoft Theater. This past weekend’s fight card is consistent with the fantastic string of Premier Boxing Champions fight cards in recent weeks.

Leading the televised fight card, the past Saturday evening was unbeaten prospect Sabastian Fundora (11-0- 7KO’s) against undefeated Donnie Marshall (10-6- 6KO’s). Fundora surprisingly did not use his length advantage against Marshall, instead, he overpowered Marshall with his surprising power and tenacity. Fundora finished off Marshall with a 3rd round knockout.

In the Post Interviews Fortuna mentioned, “I expected Marshall to go inside and attack the body, but he was trying to box. Once I figured out that he didn’t want to bring the fight, we brought it to him and it went our way.” Sabastian continued on to say, “I want to move up the rankings and get to the top five by the end of the year. Anything is possible though and maybe we’ll be fighting for a title. This division has a lot of excellent fighters. I’m going to be ready when the time is right.”

“He was stronger than I thought he was. He’s a good boxer. I thought when I let my hands go I was doing pretty good. But he caught me with a couple good shots.” Donnie said reflecting on the fight. “His height wasn’t a problem because I was able to get inside and land. But he was able to land more than me.”

In the second of the televised fight of the evening, Omar Figueroa Jr. (27-0-1 19KO’s) took of John Molina Jr. (30-7- 24KOs). Interestingly enough, each of these fighters vowed that this fight wouldn’t go the distance, yet low and behold this fight went the distance. These guys exchanged heavy punches for several consistent rounds not wanting to give the other guy the upper hand. Figueroa Jr. and Molina Jr. should both be commended for the guts and determination they displayed in their fight. I could see a rematch of this fight.

After their fight, Omar had this to say, “I thought it was a good fight. We came out and did what we wanted to do. Unfortunately, I hurt my hand, so I started to slow down a little bit after the third round. I know I could have hurt him if I really pressed the action, but I didn’t want to make the hand any worse.” Figueroa continued on to say, “I thought I won comfortably and aside from some middle rounds I felt like I was in control. He caught me with a wake-up punch in the third round. I wanted to test his power because I had heard so much about it. He’s definitely strong and durable and when I hit him with hard shots, he withstood them.”

Molina Jr has this to say after their fight, “I know what it takes to be able to fight in a weight-based sport and work toward a certain goal. I don’t want to say that weight change is an excuse, but I didn’t even have 24 hours to adjust. I take my hat off to him. He is a former world champion. I have been in there with a bunch of guys and he has a decent punch.”

In the main event of the evening, Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1- 19KOs) took on replacement fighter Rafael Rivera (26-2-2- 17KOs). This fight was a tactical fight throughout the bout. Rivera was not willing to relinquish any ground though Santa Cruz forged through each round with persistent dominance in this fight. Sant Cruz ended up winning a unanimous decision in the hard-contested fight against Rivera.

Santa Cruz shared these words post fight with us, “I want to thank all the fans that came out tonight to support me. I tried to do my best and do what I could to give them a great fight. I would have loved to have been even better, but he’s really tough and solid opponent. I hit him hard to the body and head very well, but he didn’t go down.”

He continued to say, “My father means the world to me. When I step in the ring, I say that I don’t want to let my dad down. I want to keep him happy so he can keep fighting his cancer. I want to fight the best. I want to fight any of the champions at featherweight or a third fight with Carl Frampton. I want to be back this summer and fight three times this year against the best in the division.”

In his post-fight interview, Rafael Rivera had this to say, “I’m very happy with my performance and I thought I gave everyone a great fight. I was in there with one of the best fighters in the world and throwing punches and exchanging with him. More than anything, I’m very proud to have fought 12 rounds with a great world champion like Leo Santa Cruz. People will know me better now and it was a great experience. I want to continue to push towards another world title opportunity. I want to be a world champion, but it didn’t happen tonight. I will continue to fight and show everyone what I can do.”

Santa Cruz mentioned he would be interested in fighting Gary Russell or even Gervonta Davis. Which was a little surprising to me? Santa Cruz is a solid technical boxer, I am not sure he is ready for “Tank” Davis. Let me know what you think in Santa Cruz is ready for Gervonta “Tank” Davis? Please let me know if you think this would be a quality fight by commenting in the comment section of this article on or reaching out to us on twitter @whatsgoodinsports.