Fight of the Day: Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz: 30 July 2016

Perhaps I am a little bit biased, but Carl “The Jackal” Frampton gives you value for money. Technically sound, with a propensity for aggression on the inside, he has achieved much in his career to date.

Hailing from my own hometown of Belfast, he has narrowed many political divides in Northern Ireland outside the ring, drawing the two communities of Unionist and Nationalist together; much like his former trainer and promoter Barry McGuigan. He is a former two-weight world champion, having held the unified WBA (Super) and IBF super-bantamweight titles, and the WBA (Super) featherweight title. He continues to be in the mix amongst the Featherweights at world level.

Frampton moved up a weight class to fight undefeated Mexican Léo Santa Cruz for the WBA (Super) featherweight title at the Barclays Centre in New York City. Cruz has held multiple world championships in four weight classes. Since before the bout and until this day he is considered one of the best boxers on the planet. As of March 2019, Santa Cruz is ranked as the world’s ninth best active boxer, pound for pound, by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB). These accolades have been achieved through otherworldly skill mixed with quick silver volume punching. Boxers simply drown in his work rate/punch output and many didn’t back Frampton to win.

The first has the two ebb and flow with their own flurries of movements with Frampton pushed back a few times. A close round.

The second bout displays some beautiful infighting, both men landing and making each other miss by mere inches. Cruz tries to roll a punch and counter but is himself clipped by a hard-left hook. He is staggered heavily by the shot but recovers well as Frampton digs to the body on the ropes.

The two engage in beetled outbreaks of activity inset tactical pot-shotting and manoeuvring up to a fiery round 5. Frampton is landing with laser-point accuracy as the Mexican throws volume. The guard of Cruz is being chipped away by accurate shots upstairs and downstairs before a lead uppercut, again, rocks Cruz. Cruz tries to rally back with three 1-2’s down the pipe, marching Frampton back.

Round 6 and both men test their mettle with furious in-fighting. Cruz suffers some severe body work and has his chin examined by some big uppercuts as he leans forward early. As Frampton engages more on the inside, Cruz takes the fight to the outside to land many superb powerful jabs that snap the Ulster man’s head back; dominating the round.

Round 7 continues where round 6 left off, with Cruz jabbing effectively and powerfully, landing hard on Frampton. Frampton displays some amazing head movement but falls victim to a vicious straight right that teeters him briefly.

Rounds 8 through 10 are combated technically with both men displaying highbrow boxing finesse. Frampton found slightly more success on the inside whilst Cruz hammered home his jab on the outside.

What transpired in rounds 11 and 12 was a controlled and highly skilled slugfest. Not just two men hitting each other with scorching aggression, but two men hitting each other with blistering aptitude and precision. It features one of the best sets of championship rounds in the last 5 to 10 years!

The result was a majority decision in Frampton’s favour. One judge scored it a 114-114 draw, but the others had it both 116-112 and 117-111. A remarkably close fight indeed that lead to a 2nd, almost equally enthralling bout, which saw Cruz getting the nod.

Frampton became the first two-division world champion in the history of Northern Ireland as he dethroned Santa Cruz. Let’s hope there will be a rubber match someday before their time passes.

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