Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs), the former three-time champion from Rosemead, California, by way of Huetamo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, won a majority decision over previously unbeaten Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs), from Belfast, Northern Ireland, to reclaim the WBA Super World featherweight title.
The final scores were scores were 115-113 twice (Dave Moretti and Glen Feldman) and 114-114 (Bert Clements).
The fighters picked up where they left off in July. Both fighters went at it at the opening bell and didn’t let up for 12 rounds.
Fighting out of the red corner in multicolored trunks, Santa Cruz fought a more tactical fight than during their first meeting. Working behind his jab, Leo put his advantages in height and reach to good use and outworked the former champion from a distance.
Frampton, fighting out of the blue corner in white trunks with grey trim, tried to get inside to work the body, but Santa Cruz, who displayed exceptional discipline, stuck to his game plan by fighting within himself and making adjustments when necessary.
Many of the rounds were close, especially in the first half of the fight. Leo controlled the action for the most part, but Frampton was always in it and finished strong.
If the fight had been in Northern Ireland instead of Las Vegas, the decision might have gone the other way. But Frampton, who along with Santa Cruz is one of boxing’s class acts, had no complains about the decision. He and his trainer Shane McGuigan accepted the verdict and look forward to the rubber match.
“I think it was the right decision,” said Frampton after the fight. “I thought it was close. He frustrated me at times, I didn’t expect that game plan, the boxer got out-boxed by the brawler. I thought it was the right decision, I hope we can do it again, it was a close fight.”
It was as close as the scores indicated, but Frampton, who suffered his first defeat, offered no excuses for the loss.
“I have got no excuses,” he said. “I feel I want to say sorry. I feel like I have let everyone down. The best man won on the night. I am gutted. It was my fault.”
If the two men fight again, which looks inevitable, “The Jackal” would like to get it on in Belfast.
“I hope so,” he said. “I hope he is a man of his word and we can do it in Belfast. I have come to the States twice. We could do it four, five, six times. I hope we do it again.”
Santa Cruz was listening and a third fight would please him mightily.
“I worked hard and did what I had to,” he said. “I fought a great fighter and let’s make a third fight. He is a great fighter and a great counterpuncher. It was tough to change my style, in my head I wanted to go for it, but I was told to box him and that’s what I did.
“I am a man of my word. We are both great fighters, we deserve it and let’s go again.”
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.