Boxing Betting: Santa Cruz may have to wait

Ed Hawkins

Thursday, February 14, 2019 6:28 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 6:28 PM UTC

Rafael Rivera can hold on in LA on Saturday night but champion can avoid going to the cards

<p>Leo Santa Cruz fights in his hometown of Los Angeles and it is a matter of when he gets the win <a href="">against stand-in Mexican Rafael Rivera</a> in this WBA Super 126-pound title defense.</p><p>The featherweight, who is building a legacy as one of the best in his division in recent years, was supposed to be warring with Miguel Flores in an eagerly-anticipated fight. But Flores succumbed to an injury so Rivera stepped up for the Microsoft Theatre bout which will be screened by Fox.</p><p>That he was available and that his camp thought he should take the fight on Saturday at short notice says quite a bit about where Rivera, 24, is in his career. He’s talented, of course, but he is not expected to go on and pull up trees against the best of the best.</p><p>Certainly, the bookies give him little chance. He is as big as 18/1 with <a href=";a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18">Bet365</a>. Nicknamed ‘Big Bang’ those odds are fitting. If he causes an upset here – and it would be folly to entirely write him off after an impressive show against Wilfredo Vazques Junior – it would be more than a big bang.</p><p>A more important form guide was his fight against Joseph Diaz Junior in 2017 when Rivera was, once again, a late replacement. Diaz dominated affairs with a technical masterclass and Rivera had no way through. It was described as a ‘game’ and ‘tough’ show from Rivera.</p><p>That could be our best clue to finding a wager. Santa Cruz is no better than 1/3 to win on points with <a href=";a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b">William Hill</a> so round betting is the best place for value. We will have a small interest on rounds nine, ten and 11 at 22/1, 25/1 and 33/1 (all Bet365). Santa Cruz has to go deep to get his work done and three of his last four victories have gone the distance.</p><p>Also on the undercard is a potential welterweight slugfest between Omar Figueroa Junior and Jose Molina Junior. This has a higher temperature as a betting heat with Figueroa 1/5 with <a href=";a=b4150791-892f-469b-9b6a-7dfc6df0fb07">Ladbrokes</a> and William Hill and Molina 7/2 (Hills).</p><p>As much as we’d like to get with Molina here at slightly inflated odds by our ratings the smart money is taking the 5/4 (Hills) that Figueroa gets the job done with a TKO or KO. Figueroa was hugely impressive in in a TKO of Robert Guerrero in July 2017. He knocked the former two-division champion down five times.</p><p>Not surprisingly, he’s confident here. “Molina won’t make it to the halfway point for sure, so I don’t even think it will go past four.” He is 18/1 (Hills) to do as he says.</p>
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