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Scott Quigg talks Santa Cruz-Frampton and his future

29
Jul
IBF junior featherweight titlist Carl Frampton (left) and WBA counterpart Scott Quigg go head-to-head. Photo: Mark Robinson

Quigg (r) has mixed it with Carl Frampton (l) and studied Leo Santa Cruz. Photo: Mark Robinson

British junior featherweight contender Scott Quigg is probably the best source available for an analysis on the thunderous WBA featherweight title bout between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton, which takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday.

Quigg, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING at 122 pounds, dropped a 12-round split decision to Frampton in February and could probably label Santa Cruz his chosen specialized subject on “Mastermind,” having studied the American star diligently for a period of years.

Fully recovered from the broken jaw he sustained in the Frampton bout, Quigg is actually back in the gym but the 27-year-old has taken the weekend off to make his way out to “The Big Apple” for this intriguing clash of unbeaten featherweights.

“I’m really looking forward to this fight,” said an upbeat Quigg. “I think Frampton will have to move and box over the first four or five rounds. If Santa Cruz gets close, like I did in the later rounds, then he could have real success. If I’d have fought aggressively in the first half against Frampton, then it could have been a different fight.

“I wasn’t busy enough early with the jab and the straight shots but that was down to me. However, what Santa Cruz does well is he constantly throws from range and he’s also good up close. He dictates the pace and he’s always doing something, so an opponent is always pressured.”

Much like IBF featherweight titleholder Lee Selby, who this reporter interviewed separately, Quigg does not believe that weight will be a decisive factor on Saturday night. Frampton is making his featherweight debut, whereas Santa Cruz has been at 126 pounds for over a year.

Quigg, like Selby, is convinced that Santa Cruz could still make 122 pounds if he had to and sees more reason to be wary of the fighter’s weaponry than his weight.

“For me, the only way Frampton can win is by knockout,” said Quigg bluntly. “If you look at his (two) fights against Kiko Martinez, and one or two others, he doesn’t have the best work rate. Normally, he’s able to dictate pace but Santa Cruz is good at walking you down and he’s been in with fighters who are arguably better than Frampton. On paper, Santa Cruz is the best fighter Frampton has ever faced, so I lean towards him to get the win.

“A lot could depend on the power Frampton brings up, though, and whether or not his engine allows him to get through 12 rounds. Despite the fact that he broke my jaw, at 122 pounds, I didn’t find Frampton to be a destructive puncher, although that could have been down to him struggling at the weight. If featherweight suits him, then he’s got a chance and then we’ll find out how good Santa Cruz really is.”

This reporter was ringside for Quigg’s own bout against Frampton in February. The Englishman wouldn’t commit for almost two thirds of that contest and Frampton willingly accepted the time and distance he was given. The Belfast man scored from the outside, outfoxed Quigg for long periods and survived a late-round rally to reign supreme.

Quigg (31-1-2, 23 KOs) lost his unbeaten record and his pride was damaged but he has come through the other side. The former WBA 122-pound titleholder has reloaded his guns and made it abundantly clear that his chief aim is a rematch with his conqueror. “I under-performed in that fight and I’m out to right that wrong,” said Quigg.

“I’ve watched the fight back. I know what I did well and I know what I didn’t do well. It’s in the past now; you move on and you learn from it. I lost a split decision but I admit the fact that I didn’t perform like I should have on the night. I neglected the jab and the tactics were off at the start.

Quigg continued, “I’m back in full training now. I’ve had a spar with a young professional in the gym and let him hit me on the jaw a couple of times and everything was fine. I had an x-ray a couple of weeks ago and all is well, so now it’s just about getting the head down in the gym.”

Despite the fact that Frampton-Quigg ran Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao close in terms of waiting forever to happen, there was always mutual respect between both fighters. Their respective camps engaged in some unsavory diatribe during the buildup but the animosity between the participants was minimal and Quigg insisted on keeping it that way.

“I read a story recently where someone was saying that I’m hoping for a Santa Cruz win on Saturday night but that’s the biggest load of bollocks ever,” he said. “I hope Frampton goes out there and puts on a career-best performance. I hope Santa Cruz does the same and may the best man win. If Frampton wins, it makes a rematch between us even bigger. Why wouldn’t I want that?

“As for me, we’ll check my weight again in a couple of weeks and see where my body is at and it’s possible that we’ll be targeting featherweight opposition. We could be looking at (IBF titleholder) Lee Selby, (WBO beltholder) Oscar Valdez, (WBC titlist) Gary Russell Jr. or the winner of Santa Cruz and Frampton. I’m looking for big fights as soon as possible.”

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel.  Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing.