Leo Santa Cruz, Rafael Rivera Cleared for WBA Featherweight Title Fight

By Mike Sloan Feb 15, 2019


The Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles will serve as the host location for an intriguing world championship bout and since both combatants made weight on Friday, it’s all systems go.

Leo Santa Cruz is set to defend his WBA featherweight title against late-replacement opponent Rafael Rivera in the main event of a Fox-televised card on Saturday. The featherweight division is stacked from top to bottom and Santa Cruz rules the roost and is a massive betting favorite going in.

Rivera (26-2-2, 17 KOs) was the first of the featured fighters to weigh in and he nailed it. The Tijuana fighter stepped to the scale and clocked in at 125.25 pounds, setting the stage for the biggest fight of his career. “Big Bang” recently bounced back from back-to-back losses by knocking out Jose Ramos in October, but he’s never faced anybody even close to the caliber of Santa Cruz. As of this writing, Rivera is a +1600 underdog. Rivera stepped in on late notice to replace original Santa Cruz foe Miguel Flores, who injured his ankle in training.

Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) has won world titles at bantamweight, super bantamweight and is a two-time featherweight king. His lone loss was on points to Carl Frampton, but “El Terromoto” avenged that loss via majority decision. Santa Cruz is coming off a huge win over former world champion Abner Mares in June and is a whopping -10000 betting favorite. The Mexican-born Californian weighed in officially at 125.5 pounds.

The televised co-feature will see unbeaten Omar Figueroa Jr. (27-0-1, 19 KOs) finally back in action as he takes on longtime veteran and former world title challenger John Molina Jr. (30-7, 24 KOs) at welterweight. Figueroa Jr., who hasn’t fought since dominating Robert Guerrero in July of 2017, couldn’t make the 140-pound limit, so the fight was moved up to 145. Figueroa Jr. officially weighed in at 144.5 pounds. Molina Jr., who last knocked out Ivan Redkach in December of 2017, weighed 144.25 pounds.

The action goes live on Fox beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

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