In Brookyln, New York, Frampton vs Santa Cruz certainly lived up to expectations, delivering plenty of intensity and thrills for the Barclays Center crowd. Carl Frampton emerged victorious in this battle of unbeatens, defying the odds to defeat WBA Featherweight champ Leo Santa Cruz. Final scorecards came in at 114-114, 116-112 and 117-111, which, given the back-and-forth nature of the contest, aren’t all that bad. Here at Boxing Base, where we saw the bout 116-112 to Frampton, we believe the right man got the nod.
First off, before we start chewing on this fight, big props to both of these warriors for pouring their hearts and souls into this compelling dustup. A spectacular fight, comprising as much brains as brawn, and one that perhaps might find itself on the shortlist for early Fight of the Year. Rematch in Belfast? We all know it’s going to get talked about.
Many people seemed to have underestimated Frampton going into this fight. And really, you can hardly blame them. I seem to be one of the few who actually foresaw Frampton getting his hand raised after the final bell, but, I admit, it was almost impossible to not be concerned about Santa Cruz’s 3-inch height and 7-inch reach advantages. That dude’s big.
Frampton wasn’t able to completely throw off Santa Cruz’s high-volume punching in the fight itself, but did a remarkable job of reducing that output by controlling the distance and utilizing the whole ring. Frampton’s mobility and speed in and out of the pocket was clearly not something Santa Cruz was used to seeing. And yeah, especially not from a guy who is significantly smaller in stature, I’m sure.
Another reason for Santa Cruz’s more reserved offense tonight was Frampton’s thudding counters. The guy bangs, and his power seemed to have carried well with him up to 126 pounds. Let’s not get it twisted, though; Santa Cruz was firmly in this fight, and, from the 4th round on, began finding his range and letting his hands go with higher frequency. There was a handful of very close rounds at the very least, with enough pulse-racing toe-to-toe action to make this encounter particularly memorable.
So what was it that separated these guys? For me, it was simply Frampton’s cleaner, more eye-catching punch selection and overall craft. Santa Cruz landed plenty of his own lofty shots, sure, but if we’re talking about who was the savvier ring general and better boxer here, I’ve got to go with the Irishman. If Frampton was backing off, playing a more negative role, or simply countering all night long, then hey, Santa Cruz would have had a huge case for winning this bout.
But that’s not what happened. Frampton seemed to intentionally hammer home a message to the judges here, and of course to the man in front of him, that he wasn’t going to be outmuscled and bullied around. And, in short, it seemed to work awfully well, resonating with those ringside and yours truly.
Carl Frampton, who formerly held the IBF and WBA straps at Junior Featherweight, now becomes a two-weight champion, extending his unbeaten run to 23 wins, 14 knockouts, while Leo Santa Cruz suffers his first career blemish, now reducing to 32 wins, 1 defeat, 1 draw, 18 knockouts.
Right, it’s late and I’m now seriously wilting at the keyboard so I’ve gotta’ sign off.
Frampton vs Santa Cruz: Undercard
- Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KO) beats Elio Rojas (24-3, 14 KO) via TKO 5, Junior Welterweight; Rojas knocked down twice in 3rd, once in 4th, twice in 5th rounds
- Sergey Rabchenko (28-1, 21 KO) beats Tony Harrison (23-2, 19 KO) via TKO 9, Junior Middleweight; Rabchenko knocked down in 9th round
- Paulie Malignaggi (36-7, 7 KO) beats Gabriel Bracero (24-3, 5 KO) via UD 10, Welterweight; 98-92 (twice), 96-94
- Amanda Serrano (29-1-1, 22 KO) beats Calixta Silgado (14-7-3, 9 KO) via TKO 1, retains WBO Featherweight title; Silgado knocked down twice
Give us your take on Frampton vs Santa Cruz in the comments below, your own scorecards, plus the rest of the Brooklyn card. Also, rematch? Or should Frampton turn his attention to other challengers?