After nearly 18 months, this weekend sees the return of Leo Santa Cruz to the ring, where he will face off against Keenan Carbajal. The featherweight bout is slated for Saturday, January 5, and is a part of the card headlined by Keith Thurman’s showdown with Mario Berrios.
Although not the main fight of the day, the bout between Cruz and Carbajal promises to be an exciting one no boxing fan should miss. And as always, there are also some excellent betting opportunities to check out, so let’s get into our betting preview of the match and present you with our expert betting picks for Saturday’s boxing spectacle.
Last Fights Records
Santa Cruz was last seen boxing 18 months ago when he had to admit defeat to Gervonta Davies, who took him down with a brutal uppercut back in Halloween of 2020. Even saying it was a brutal punch does not do it justice, leaving many boxing fans wondering if Cruz will ever step back into the ring.
Still, it marked only Cruz’s second defeat of his career and first since July 2016, when he lost to Carl Frampton. Between the two defeats, the 33-year-old Mexican picked up five wins against Frampton in a rematch in January 2017, Chris Avalos (October 2017), Abner Mares (June 2018), Rafael Rivera (February 2019), and Miguel Flores (November 2019).
Like his next opponent, Keenan Carbajal has lost only two bouts in his career, but not a single one since March 2015, when he had to admit defeat to Jair Quintero. Since then, Carbajal has picked up 18 straight wins.
That stretch includes three wins in 2021, when he beat Ernesto Guerrero (April), Carlos Jorge Luis Sardinez (June), and Josean Figueroa Bonilla (November).
The Cruz vs Carbajal bout is slated for:
- Saturday, February 5, 2022,
- At Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas, United States.
Cruz vs Carbajal Betting Analysis
Santa Cruz enters the bout as a massive -1667 favorite to defeat Carbajal, who the sports betting sites have priced as a +750 underdog for this fight. Seeing such a gigantic gap in odds is definitely a bit confusing, but there are good reasons why the bookies prefer the returning fighter.
Leo Santa Cruz Analysis
Santa Cruz enters the bout with a 37-2-1 record, including a defeat against Davies in 2020. But even though Cruz lost his most recent bout, he is still the current featherweight champion for the WBA, and that is definitely something you can’t look past.
Furthermore, Cruz won’t be defending his belt in this bout. Instead, his fight with Carbajal was set up mainly as a comeback fight for the 33-year-old, which, as we know, usually means that the returning fighter is set up with a much weaker opponent just so he can shake off the rust. And this one looks like it follows that rule.
Cruz will want to win this fight for many reasons. He might as well admit that he is no longer an elite-level boxer and step away from the ring if he loses. What’s more, it was reported that Mark Magsayo would be watching the fight and would like to challenge Cruz – but that won’t happen if Cruz loses.
Keenan Carbajal Analysis
Carbajal holds a very impressive 23-2-1 career record, which admittedly has 14 fewer wins than Cruz (and the same number of losses), but Carbajal has not tasted defeat since way back in 2015.
Although his numbers are solid, Crabajal has never fought someone at the level of Cruz. Does that mean he doesn’t have a chance? No, but his chances to win this bout are very slim – perfectly displayed in his moneyline odds that show him as a +750 underdog on most sports betting sites.
Cruz and Carbajal enter the ring without any known injuries and should be ready to produce a spectacular fight. So while we have nothing to say about injuries, let’s instead check a few betting trends and interesting information about the fighters.
- Cruz is 37-2-1, with 19 of his wins coming from a KO (51.3%).
- Carbajal is 23-2-1 with 15 KO wins (65.2%).
- Cruz (33) is only three years older than Carbajal (30).
- The Mexican fighter has fought 14 more fights in his career, but not a single one since Halloween 2020.
- Since Cruz’s last fight, Carbajal appeared in three fights and won each one (2x TKO, 1x RTD).
- Cruz made his professional debut in October 2006, seven years before Carbajal (May 2013).
- At 5’7.5’’, Cruz is shorter than Carbajal (5’10’’).
Leo Santa Cruz vs Keenan Carbajal Betting Preview
On paper, this looks like a very competitive matchup, but if we’re completely honest, it likely won’t be. Although Carbajal has a strong record, he has yet to face anyone at the level of Cruz in his career, so this bout will be a substantial step-up fight for him.
Carbajal might have a longer reach and is taller than Cruz, but the 33-year-old is a former much better boxer. Even though the Mexican has not fought in over a year, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is still the featherweight champion.
Furthermore, Cruz needs to win this bout to prove to the world that he is still an elite-level boxer and get his career back on track following a long break.
Cruz vs Carbajal Betting Prediction
Anything can happen in boxing, but we’re not here to explore all the possible outcomes but to provide predictions and betting picks. And if we take into account all the information we have on the fighters, there seems to be a very slim chance Carbajal can win.
Cruz is a more experienced, better boxer who should be tough to defeat for Carbajal, who doesn’t seem to have the tools to defend himself against the Mexican’s explosive fighting style. Admittedly, Carbajal has a better KO percentage, but he has mostly fought fighters that are a class below Cruz.
There is definitely a world where Carbajal produces an upset, but we wouldn’t count on it happening; instead, we have to trust Cruz to step back into the ring and pick up the 38th win of his career. Although the sports betting sites offer only -1667 on Cruz to win the fight, we’re getting great odds on the Mexican champion to win with a KO (-120), which will be our betting pick for this fight.
Prediction: Leo Santa Cruz to win with a KO
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