At the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Leo Santa Cruz got his revenge on Featherweight rival Carl Frampton, recapturing the WBC title in the process. Official scorecards came in at 114-114 and 115-113 (twice), while Boxing Base had it wider at 116-112 for Santa Cruz. The hotly anticipated rematch had a half-dozen close stanzas, but there needn’t be any serious doubts surrounding the victor this time around. For the record, BB had no qualms awarding Santa Cruz rounds 1-2 and 9-12.
The Mexican-born Californian now builds to 33 wins, 1 defeat, 1 draw, 18 knockouts, while Northern Ireland’s Frampton picks up his first blemish, leaving the strip with 23 wins, 1 defeat, 14 knockouts.
Santa Cruz was simply the better fighter, executing a significantly smarter game plan than in their previous meeting last July. Santa Cruz put his longer dimensions to greater use tonight, utilizing deft footwork and a strong jab to keep Frampton at bay. And when Frampton did fly into the pocket to launch an assault, surprisingly it was actually Santa Cruz who was the more superior inside-fighter. Who would’ve thought?
This sequel didn’t come close to mirroring their original Fight of the Year encounter, but the odds of lightening striking twice is never too great. Still, all in all, there was enough toe-to-toe exchanges in the second half to keep the majority of fans glued to what was still a fiery, competitive fight. The big question now is whether we’ll be seeing a trilogy-maker later in 2017.
Personally, I think we’re familiar enough with how these two dance together. And, now that Santa Cruz has found a way to neutralize Frampton’s effectiveness enough to gain a telling edge, it’s likely we’d all be in for another lively, close-ish decision. Let’s not forget that there’s also a number of other meaningful matchups out there at Featherweight to be made. The division is fairly deep and yet still without a clear ‘champion’. So, how about we see Santa Cruz and Frampton locking horns with another fellow title-holder like Gary Russell Jr, Lee Selby or Oscar Valdez in their next outings?
(Cos’ there’s more money in Frampton vs Santa Cruz III, dumb ass!)
Frampton vs Santa Cruz II: Undercard
- Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KO) scored a 3rd round knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1, 15 KO) that was both sensational and frightening. From the first bell, it was plain to see that this was a contest of ‘levels’, and that Zlaticanin was in deep with a superior, much sharper operator. Garcia was in and out of range at just the right moments, making his man reach and miss, all while firing back a thudding jab and meaty right hands. Zlaticanin, who now surrenders his WBC Lightweight title, was caught with a knee-buckling uppercut in the 3rd, and finally knocked out cold by a monstrous right hand. The 135 lb division has a new beast, and it’s called Mikey Garcia.
- Junior Welterweight Josh Taylor (8-0, 7 KO) secured the eighth straight win of his young pro career, comfortably outpointing Alfonso Olvera (8-3-1, 3 KO). Scorecards tallied at 79-72 and 78-73 (twice). Taylor, despite being docked a point in the 8th round for a second (most likely accidental) low blow, had no serious problems getting the job done. But, credit where it’s due, Olvera came with ambition, showed plenty of grit, and made the Scottish prospect work for the victory tonight.
- Rising Super Middleweight contender David Benavidez (17-0, 16 KO) had no trouble putting away Sherali Mamajonov (14-2, 7 KO) inside two rounds. Benavidez wasn’t in with the biggest threat at 168 lbs, but does look like he could be quite a beast in the near future. Especially since he’s 20-years-old and still has time to grow. Mamajonov was patiently picked off with a piston jab, dropped off an effortless-looking right cross in the opener, and carefully blasted out in the 2nd round en route to a TKO. Now, it’s not worth getting too swept away with Benavidez just yet, but this natural-born puncher is certainly one to keep an eye on.
- Ivan Redkach (20-2-1, 16 KO) kicked off the evening’s action with an 8th round TKO of Demond Brock (13-4-1, 4 KO). This is a step back in the right direction toward bigger fights for Redkach, once a promising Lightweight contender, who is now 2-2-1 in his last five outings.
Give us your take on Frampton vs Santa Cruz II in the comments, Garcia vs Zlaticanin, plus the rest of the Las Vegas card.