WBA “super” featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz has his hands full on a rematch against Abner Mares, but that doesn’t mean he’s not thinking of fighting some of the other world champions.
During a media workout, Santa Cruz talked about the possibility of facing WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. in a unification bout after Santa Cruz’s fight against Mares. Santa Cruz said he and Russell had fought in the past as amateurs and that in a rematch, Santa Cruz knows what to do in order to defeat Russell.
"I am ready to unify with any of the featherweight champions. Me and Gary Russell Jr. fought in the amateurs. He beat me but it was a good fight and I believe I can beat him. I know the tactics I'd use [in a fight against Russell Jr.]. Hopefully I can get my rematch,” Santa Cruz said.
Talks of a potential unification started after Russell’s May 19 win over Joseph Diaz. Russell retained his title with a unanimous decision win and said in a post-fight interview with Showtime that he has been trying to unify featherweight world titles for years and that he’s interested in fighting the winner of Santa Cruz vs. Mares.
Santa Cruz vs. Mares will headline a Showtime Championship Boxing card on June 9 in Los Angeles that will also feature Jermell Charlo vs. Austin Trout for the WBC junior middleweight world title. The fight is a rematch from their 2015 encounter which saw Santa Cruz win the WBA title via majority decision.