Friday, November 30, 2012
Leo Santa Cruz to fight on CBS
By Dan Rafael
NEW YORK -- Bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz and 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. will be featured in separate Dec. 15 bouts when live boxing returns to CBS for the first time since the late 1990s.
Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13 KOs) will make the third defense of his 118-pound title against Mexico's Alberto Guevara (16-0, 6 KOs), and Diaz, a junior featherweight, will make his professional debut in a four-round fight against an opponent to be determined on a card at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Friday.
"We are calling it 'Santa Cruz is Coming To Town,'" said Schaefer, showing his holiday spirit.
Schaefer also said that Golden Boy has signed Diaz to an exclusive promotional contract.
The fights are part of what amounts to boxing's version of a day-night doubleheader in baseball. First, the Sports Arena will host the Santa Cruz-headlined show in the afternoon, which will air as a 90-minute telecast on CBS following college basketball.
"We are happy to be on CBS," Schaefer said. "We've been working on this, and we're excited to bring boxing back to CBS."
In the evening, Golden Boy is promoting a Showtime-televised tripleheader at the same arena. That previously announced card is headlined by the return of former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan (26-3, 18 KOs) against Carlos Molina (17-0-1, 7 KOs) in Khan's first bout since losing his title by fourth-round knockout to Danny Garcia in a July unification fight.
Schaefer also unveiled the other two TV fights on the evening card: junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo (21-2, 18 KOs) against Mexican countryman Jorge Silva (19-2-2, 15 KOs), and heavyweight Deontay Wilder (25-0, 25 KOs), the 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist, taking on his most notable opponent in Kelvin Price (13-0, 6 KOs).
On Nov. 10, Angulo returned from a year out of the ring -- seven months of which were spent in a detention center in Southern California while his visa problems were ironed out -- to blitz Raul Casarez in 56 seconds.
On the Showtime Extreme portion of the Khan-Molina undercard, Schaefer said welterweight Shawn Porter (20-0, 14 KOs) will face former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz (40-7, 29 KOs). Other 2012 U.S. Olympians also will be on the card, Schaefer said.
The television arrangement is possible because CBS and Showtime are sister networks. Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza told ESPN.com that the CBS-televised bouts will be produced by Showtime, will use Showtime's announce team and will be called "Showtime Boxing on CBS."
Schaefer said he is planning to make admission to the CBS card free, and if fans want to stay for the higher-profile evening bouts they can buy a ticket. But he said he is also planning to hold a holiday toy drive for kids that would allow fight fans free admission to the evening bouts with the donation of a toy.
The CBS card, the first of what Schaefer said will be multiple cards, comes a week before live boxing returns to NBC on Dec. 22, with the rematch between heavyweights Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham, whose 2008 cruiserweight championship fight was one of the most action-packed of the year.
Santa Cruz, 24, who is from Mexico but lives in Lincoln Heights, Calif., has emerged as one of boxing's most exciting fighters this year, winning a vacant title in June and scoring knockouts in his two defenses, including a ninth-round stoppage of Victor Zaleta on Nov. 10.
Diaz, a southpaw from South El Monte, Calif., was the U.S. bantamweight in the London Olympics last summer. The two-time U.S. national amateur champion, who turned 20 on Nov. 23, won his opening-round fight and then was eliminated in the second round of the tournament. But many view him as one of the top pro prospects from the men's Olympic team, the first in American history not to win a single medal.
"We think Diaz has tremendous potential, which is why we wanted to sign him," Schaefer said. "He has a great personality, he has charisma and he can fight. We think of him as the total package. He's bilingual, he's well-spoken and exciting. He has all the ingredients."
Ralph Heredia, Diaz's manager, told ESPN.com that they had interest from several promoters and also strongly considered signing with Top Rank.
"We are ecstatic to be going with Golden Boy," Heredia said. "CBS hasn't had a fight since around 1997 and the exposure Joseph will get is unbelievable. We couldn't be happier. I believe Golden Boy has the best platforms for Joseph. (Golden Boy president) Oscar (De La Hoya) will take him under his wing and help guide his career. Just look how many shows they are doing on all different platforms. It made the most sense to go with Golden Boy.
"Joseph is very excited. He watched Oscar since he was a kid and he admires him as a fighter and as a businessman. Top Rank is a class operation, too, but when it came down it, we believed Golden Boy had the best platforms."