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Santa Cruz to defend title vs. Roman

Junior featherweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz will defend his belt against unknown Manuel Roman in the co-feature to welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s rematch with Marcos Maidana on Sept. 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions announced on Thursday.

The other two televised bouts on the Showtime PPV undercard were also announced: lightweight titleholder Miguel Vazquez against Mickey Bey, and Alfredo Angulo against James De La Rosa in a scheduled 10-rounder at 162 pounds.

Also on the card, John Molina Jr. will square off with former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist Humberto Soto in a 10-round junior welterweight fight that will be part of Showtime's "Countdown Live" preview show just before the pay-per-view telecast begins.

Having well-known Mexican-born fighters such as Santa Cruz, Angulo and Soto on the card was by design since the card takes place on Mexican Independence Day weekend, a traditional date for a major boxing card.

Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KOs), 26, a former bantamweight titlist, who lives in Los Angeles, will be making the third defense of his 122-pound world title against Roman.

"This is my second time fighting on a Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view undercard and I know that there is no bigger stage than this," Santa Cruz said. "Manuel Roman is a tough customer. I know he's going to come prepared and try to take my title. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain, but I plan on leaving the ring with my hand raised."

Roman (17-2-3, 6 KOs), 26, who lives in Paramount, California, is taking a huge step up in competition. He has never boxed in a scheduled 12-round bout, has had only two 10-rounders and has mainly been fighting six- and eight-round bouts against low-level opposition. He has won two in a row since a 10-round decision loss to Randy Caballero, a top bantamweight contender.

"Leo Santa Cruz is one of the top guys not only in the (junior featherweight) division, but in all of boxing," Roman said. "I've never been intimidated in the ring before and I don't plan on starting on Sept. 13. Santa Cruz better be ready because I know I will be."

Vazquez (34-3, 13 KOs), 27, will be making his sixth title defense. He is a skillful fighter but has not been coveted by television networks because his bouts are generally very boring due to his defensive, running style. However, he recently signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon, who also handles Mayweather, so it is not a surprise that he landed on the card.

"I'm looking forward to fighting at MGM Grand again and on this amazing Floyd Mayweather card," Vazquez said. "It's time to get to business and get in the best shape ever so I'm ready to put on a show. I respect Mickey Bey, but I plan on winning convincingly to show that I'm one of the best in the lightweight division."

Bey (20-1-1, 10 KOs), 31, of Cleveland, who is promoted by Mayweather and will be in his first world title bout, has won two fights in a row since he faced Molina in July 2013 in a fight Bey was handily winning before being shockingly knocked out with 59 seconds left in the 10-rounder as Molina notched one of the most memorable comebacks in recent years.

"I want to thank God for helping me persevere through the tough times and helping me overcome obstacles in my life," Bey said. "I also want to thank my team for believing in me and helping me get to this opportunity. I plan on seizing the moment and becoming a world champion on Sept. 13."

Angulo (22-4, 18 KOs), 32, one of boxing's most exciting fighters, is looking to rebound from back-to-back 10th-round knockout losses. Canelo Alvarez stopped him in March in a one-sided fight, and Erislandy Lara survived two knockdowns to make Angulo quit with a badly swollen eye in June 2013.

"I've been anxious to get back in the ring ever since the end of the Canelo fight," Angulo said. "I'm ready to get back on the winning track and this is a great opportunity for me to do that in front of the world on Mexican Independence Day weekend. This fight could not be more critical for my future in this sport and I want to put on a great show for the fans."

De La Rosa (22-2, 13 KOs), a 26-year-old Mexican fighting out of San Benito, Texas, is 2-2 in his last four fights and has had long stretches of inactivity as he gets set to face his most accomplished opponent.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to make my name on a huge stage against a fellow Mexican-warrior in Alfredo Angulo. On Sept. 13 I'm going to teach an old dog some new tricks," De La Rosa said, referring to Angulo's nickname "Perro" dog in Spanish.

Molina (27-4, 22 KOs), 31, of Covina, California, is looking to rebound from an 11th-round knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse in April in one of the most action-packed fights of the year. Molina knocked Matthysse down twice was also was dropped three times before being knocked out. Soto (64-8-2, 35 KOs), 34, is riding a six-fight winning streak since being knocked out by Matthysse in the fifth round in 2012.