There’s a stacked night of boxing in store for Saturday, January 28th. The gruelling, furiously competitive DeGale vs Jack kicked off the boxing year nicely, and Showtime’s Frampton vs Santa Cruz card, taking place alongside HBO’s Vargas vs Berchelt, is eagerly anticipated. For now, let’s concentrate on the former, which will see Northern Ireland’s WBA (Super) Featherweight champ Carl Frampton rematch Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz.
Their first meeting last July was worthy of the hype. Santa Cruz was considered a big Featherweight, but there was still doubt surrounding his abilities at top level. As for Frampton, no one doubted his class, but, at 5’ 5”, there could be no room for serious error given his physical limitations. As we now know, that heated encounter did wonders for both men, particularly Frampton on the US scene. Intelligently fought with plenty of firepower, it was Frampton who retained his ‘0’ following a close, hard-fought Majority Decision.
With the demand for a rematch already there, it seemed inevitable that Santa Cruz was going to get his chance to even the score and for Frampton to prove it was no fluke (it wasn’t). And yeah, for a ton of money to be made. Frampton vs Santa Cruz II is a big event for a number of very marketable reasons, and it feels like we’re probably in for another thriller given homeland pride and bragging rights are on the line. Northern Ireland vs Mexico, in other words.
Now, we could pick this sequel apart in search of a victor, but that almost seems unnecessary. Cos’ maybe this is just a good, fun event we shouldn’t all be over-thinking? OK, personally I think the smart money does go on Frampton. Overall, he’s the more fluid, accurate puncher – not by miles – and is arguably one of the best combination punchers in the sport today. And yeah, he can bang. With all that said, Santa Cruz still has an excellent chance of exacting revenge. Being the taller (5’ 8” – 5’ 5”), rangier guy (69” – 62”) – with notable pop of his own – his threat is very real.
Following this bout, the winner has plenty of options in a deep, challenging Featherweight division (see BB’s World Top 10). For Frampton, assuming he sticks at 126 lbs, there are a number of potentially very marketable matchups out there. There’s neighbouring Welshman, Lee Selby, Gary Russell Jr stateside, plus Mexico’s Abner Mares and Oscar Valdez. No easy fights here, but, given Frampton’s growing popularity with US and Mexican audiences, these are far from impossible. It’s worth noting all these guys are titleholders.
As for Santa Cruz, even if he were to lose again, similar kinds of options are out there (depending on the nature of the fight), maybe even a trilogy-maker against Frampton. All-Mexican showdowns against Mares (a rematch) or Valdez, in particular, would be warmly received by most fight fans. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Featherweight is a pretty hot division right now. You can catch all the action on Showtime and Boxnation Saturday week.
Frampton vs Santa Cruz II: Undercard
- Dejan Zlaticanin vs Mikey Garcia | 12 rounds | Zlaticanin’s WBC Lightweight title defense
- Lee Selby vs Jonathan Barros | 12 rounds | Selby’s IBF Featherweight title defense
- Jorge Lara vs Oktay Takalak | 10 rounds | Featherweight
- Josh Taylor vs TBA | 10 rounds | Junior Welterweight
- David Benavidez vs Sherali Mamajonov | 8 rounds | Super Middleweight
- Ivan Redkach vs TBA | 8 rounds | Lightweight
So who comes out on top on fight night? Will Frampton make it 2-0? Or will Santa Cruz even the score? Let us know in the comments below.