FRAMPTON VS. SANTA CRUZ: REPEAT OR REVENGE?
Thursday, January 19, 2017
By Sam Constantinou Coulter
In less than two weeks time a rematch will take place that has had fight fans licking their lips with anticipation ever since the final bell sounded in their first contest.
The fight being alluded to is of course between WBA featherweight world champion Carl Frampton and the man who used to hold that title Leo Santa Cruz which will take place at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on the 28th of this month.
The first battle was an all-action, absorbing contest between two men who proved themselves to not only be truly world class fighters but to be absolute warriors of the sport. The pair had fans gripped with toe to toe exchanges and real champions determination.
Frampton came into the fight as the underdog but his work early on was superbly accurate whilst managing to make Santa Cruz miss. He landed powerful shots and earned the respect of the Mexican by standing up close when he needed to.
Santa Cruz began to turn the tide in his favour in the second half of the fight with his relentless work-rate and desire to win. He threw shots at will and did everything in his power to claim the win but ultimately came up short in a very close affair.
Frampton was awarded the contest via majority decision with scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 114-114. Whilst two of the scores seemed a little wide in Frampton's favour the right man won the fight and we now have a fantastic rematch in store.
Frampton aged 29 was picked by many as fighter of the year for 2016 following his victories over Scott Quigg and Santa Cruz which saw him unify Super-bantamweight titles before going on to claim a featherweight world title.
With an undefeated 23-0 professional record Frampton heads into the fight full of confidence and desire to prove that the first win wasn't a fluke. Some have suggested that the issues Santa Cruz suffered in preparation for the fight played a crucial role in the outcome of the fight.
This time around Frampton will be aiming to silence the critics beyond doubt and establish himself as a pound for pound star of the sport.
Santa Cruz aged 28 holds a 32-1-1 professional record with 18 wins by way of knockout. He will be aiming for vengeance after Frampton inflicted the first defeat of his career. He will be more determined than ever to set the record straight and that makes him an extremely dangerous fighter.
He is going to enter the ring desperate for victory and will put it all on the line in order to walk away with the win.
In terms of tactics, it is obvious that Santa Cruz will adopt a high intensity, all action style where he tries to overwhelm Frampton and force him onto the ropes. He will try to bully the Northern Irishman and force him into uncomfortable positions.
For Frampton, he will likely look to avoid as much of the toe to toe exchanges as the first fight and let his technical skill serve him well instead. Frampton is the technically more proficient fighter and feels as though he can make the rematch an altogether easier affair.
He will look to land accurate, hard shots and then use his movement to get out of range and frustrate his opponent. He will have to maintain his discipline and be ready for an intense night.
When it comes to predicting a winner Frampton has to be the favourite. He has shown that he can grit through the tough times and will now come into the fight knowing that he can win rather than believing.
That extra level of confidence can improve a fighter by that few percent necessary to walk away victorious from such challenges. I expect Frampton to claim a points win in another highly entertaining contest.
Whoever walks away victorious is, of course, a matter that only time will reveal but the true winner here is the boxing fan who gets to witness another fantastic fight. 2017 is lining up to be a good year for the sport with a number of big fights already scheduled and I for one cannot wait to see what else is in store for us.