Another weekend, another battle of undefeated champions. WBC super featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 18 KOs) meets former 122-pound titleholder Carl Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Santa Cruz, 27, throws punches in bunches. He fights like a man with his car double-parked. He can leave his opponent feeling overwhelmed, and looking for a place to hide.
Two-time champion Frampton at 122 pounds is moving up in weight (four pounds) to challenge Santa Cruz. Frampton can box or punch. He resembles a choir boy, but his angelic face belies his inner toughness.
Santa Cruz captured his first championship belt at 21 and his second at 23. It was obvious he was packed with ability, but his handlers matched him carefully, until he boxed former champion Abner Mares last year in Los Angeles. Santa Cruz looked terrific. He outfought Mares over 12 rounds--winning by unanimous decision. The bout was reminiscent of the some of the classic Southern California brawls from the 1970’s. Santa Cruz was last seen in the ring knocking out Kiko Martinez last February.
Frampton, a former amateur standout, won the IBF strap in his 19th professional fight by knocking out Martinez in 2014. After two successful defenses, he met domestic rival, and WBA champion, Scott Quigg, five months ago. Frampton, 29, boxed smartly, winning the fight by split decision.
Santa Cruz, the taller by two inches, will a have a substantial reach advantage against Frampton. He’ll fire punches from all angles, trying to keep Frampton on the defensive.
Frampton is a athletic fighter with brisk feet and quick hands. He’ll need to figure out a way to smother Santa Cruz, and bang him on the inside.
Santa Cruz is an accurate puncher--while Frampton uses a double-jab to set up his power punches.
I can’t see Frampton consistently getting past the long arms of Santa Cruz. He’ll be competitive, but if Santa Cruz keeps him on the outside, he’ll pound on him like a little brother for 12 rounds.
Santa Cruz by late stoppage or unanimous decision.
The Leo Santa Cruz versus Carl Frampton championship fight can be seen live this Saturday on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.