Fight Picks: Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz II
On Saturday, Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 knockouts) and Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) will meet in a rematch for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Showtime. The broadcast will begin at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT while, in the U.K., it will be shown on Sky Sports at 1:00 a.m GMT.
Frampton, 29, used his considerable boxing skills to edge Santa Cruz in their first go-round and will try to use his versatile style to his advantage again.
However, Santa Cruz, 28, considered to be the more one-dimensional of the pair, can count on home support in the more cozy confines of Las Vegas – nearer to his Los Angeles home base – as well as a camp not fraught with worry over his father’s ill health. Thankfully his father is in remission from the cancer.
Credit to Santa Cruz for invoking the rematch clause straight away and looking to gain revenge.
It will be interesting to see how Frampton deals with being the favorite and if he can continue his improvement. In his last two fights, he’s fought two unbeaten fighters – Scott Quigg and Santa Cruz – and handed both of them losses.
Santa Cruz has enjoyed a much better camp than the first time around but lost his unbeaten record last time and was hurt, at one point, bouncing off the ropes. Will those things play on his mind? Can he use the revenge angle and his father’s health to whip himself into a frenzy and use his all-action style to level the series? Time will tell but, with days to go, it looks set to be a highly entertaining fight.
Online gambling group bet365.com lists Frampton as a 8/13 (-163) favorite while Santa Cruz is priced at 13/8 (+130).
RingTV.com polled 23 boxing insiders for their picks:
Eric Bottjer, Roc Nation Sports matchmaker
Carl Frampton PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: I think the fight will be closer this time around. I think Santa Cruz can improve, although I do agree with Frampton in his belief that Santa Cruz cannot change his style. But with a crowd behind him and motivation of revenge, Santa Cruz will improve. On the flipside, Frampton has neither of those advantages and also his firm belief that he is simply the better fighter. I believe that is true but sometimes that belief can backfire – if Frampton doesn’t believe that he’ll be facing a better Santa Cruz, then that’s trouble for him. Bottom line, I like Frampton by decision. However, I would not bet on this fight. If it’s close, I can see Santa Cruz getting a controversial decision.
Robert Diaz, Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker
Leo Santa Cruz SD 12 Carl Frampton: A good fight, I personally think Leo’s team should have done a fight in-between but it is what it is and they are days from fighting. I believe it will be a competitive fight like the first one and it all depends on Frampton. I predicted Frampton in the first one and if he boxes and gives angles and stays outside, I believe he can repeat but if he believes he can hurt and stop Leo and tries for it, then I believe Leo wins and maybe by stoppage. In the end, it comes down to discipline, who sticks to his game plan. I do believe Leo has trained hard, as he wants his revenge. I will go with Leo by split decision.
Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO
Carl Frampton to beat Leo Santa Cruz: I just think that Frampton is better schooled, hits harder and has more desire. I expect a lot of action but my gut tells me that Frampton is the better fighter.
Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest/TheSweetScience.com
Carl Frampton UD 12 Leo Santa Cruz: In deference to “Trainer of the Year” Shane McGuigan, let me state unequivocally that I was wrong about his fighter of the year, featherweight champion Carl Frampton. I picked Leo Santa Cruz to beat Frampton pretty easily last July. Obviously, the “Jackal” is a much more complete boxer than I, and some others, thought he was. As far as this rematch with LSC is concerned, it strikes me as being redundant and unnecessary. Having now seen this match-up play out in the ring over 12 rounds, I’m confidently picking Frampton to win the sequel. I didn’t see anything from LSC to convince me he can, or will, avenge his first loss.
Norm Frauenheim, THE RING/15rounds.com
Leo Santa Cruz SD 12 Carl Frampton: A draw might be the safest pick in a bout that looks a lot like the second step toward a trilogy. Santa Cruz enters the rematch with factors not there in his narrow loss to Carl Frampton in July. There’s stability in his corner with father/trainer Jose, whose cancer is in remission. In Vegas, he’s close to home. He figures to be the crowd favorite. Both might be enough to tip the cards in his favor this time around. But if he can’t deal with Frampton’s hand speed, smarts and know-how in close fights, it won’t matter. A more focused Santa Cruz figures to be more aware of what to do and how to adjust. The guess is that he’ll do just enough of that in a close, perhaps controversial decision.
Sean Gibbons, Zanfer matchmaker and Orlando Salido manager
Leo Santa Cruz PTS 12 Carl Frampton: Santa Cruz by decision, this time. I like the location better and not having the personal problems with his dad’s cancer on his mind.
Brad Goodman, Top Rank Promotions, matchmaker
Leo Santa Cruz PTS 12 Carl Frampton: I’m going to say with not a lot of confidence, I lean towards Santa Cruz in a very close fight this time. Very, very similar to the first fight.
Tom Gray, RingTV.com
Carl Frampton TKO 11 Leo Santa Cruz: I picked Frampton on a decision the first time around and I think he can go one better in the rematch and score a stoppage. All Santa Cruz can do is apply more pressure and attack with more abandon. That will leave him wide open to counterpunching and Frampton has already proven that he can hurt him. In pursuit of revenge, I believe Santa Cruz will go out on his shield and take massive risks. That will be his undoing.
David Greisman, BoxingScene.com
Carl Frampton UD 12 Leo Santa Cruz: I don’t know that Santa Cruz can do much better than he did unless he opts for less activity and changes up his style to be more of a boxer-puncher. Or we can see Frampton have a bad night. I think Frampton has the talent, style and strategy to win once again in another entertaining engagement.
Lee Groves, RingTV.com
Leo Santa Cruz PTS 12 Carl Frampton: Frampton fought about as well as he could in the first fight while Santa Cruz was a bit off his game. I don’t know if that was the result of age and attrition on the 28-year-old Santa Cruz’s part or if he lost because Frampton was the better-skilled fighter. This fight should answer that question. I believe Santa Cruz’s formidable volume game, as well as his advantages in height (two inches) and reach (seven inches), will help him do a better job of dictating range and pace. It also helps that this Las Vegas fight is taking place closer to his home base and that he will have revenge on his mind. It’ll be another hard-fought, closely-contested affair that will probably result in plenty of trilogy talk. I, for one, would be for that.
Duke McKenzie, former three-weight world champion
Carl Frampton PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: After watching Frampton-Santa Cruz I, again and again, it was a mini-classic. Santa Cruz doesn’t fight well on the inside surprisingly; Frampton does. I see a repeat of their first fight. Frampton on points again in a close fight.
Jolene Mizzone, Main Events matchmaker
Carl Frampton PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: I think you are going to see both guys go down in this one but Frampton has been there before and will only come back stronger. I think Frampton has the better mental, by far, which will only help him in this one and moving forward. Frampton by decision.
Marty Mulcahey, UCNlive.com
Carl Frampton to beat Leo Santa Cruz: In my prediction for first figh,t I opined, “I am backing Carl Frampton, mostly because Frampton has the style to trouble Santa Cruz, given his mix of aggression and movement. Frampton’s use of angles and quick jab of his own should make Santa Cruz hesitate on combinations he usually employs to good effect. This one will come down to the final two rounds, where the stockier Frampton bulls forward to win a close split decision.” I stand by that thinking for the rematch, even more so since I think Frampton has a better foundation of skills from to evolve and improve on his first meeting with Santa Cruz. This time, I like Frampton by a more comfortable decision or late-round stoppage.
Harry Pratt, Express Newspapers
Carl Frampton to beat Leo Santa Cruz: Carl Frampton is promising to be even better the second time round against Leo Santa Cruz and, if he is, then it is impossible to see anything but a repeat of the Belfast man’s victory last July – perhaps by an even wider margin.
Scott Quigg, featherweight contender
Carl Frampton to beat Leo Santa Cruz: I think it will be a better fight than the last, with an improved Santa Cruz maybe 30 percent better. I think that, with his dad being ill it unsettled him and affected his performance. Frampton fought a good fight on the night he got his tactics right. I think he gave Santa Cruz mental doubts as he traded with him punch for punch, whereas, in the past, Santa Cruz has bullied people, I think that he found his match with Carl. I expect an improved Frampton and it will be a tight close fight, with Frampton winning on points or possibly Carl stopping Santa Cruz in the late rounds.
John J. Raspanti, Maxboxing.com, Ringside Boxing Show, Doghouseboxing.com
Carl Frampton MD 12 Leo Santa Cruz: Can Leo Santa Cruz make the necessary adjustments to defeat Carl Frampton in their rematch? Or does Frampton have his number? I believe it’s the latter. I do expect Santa Cruz to bring more fire this time but Frampton will skip away and counter. His versatility is the key. He’ll use his legs and faster hands. The fight will be tight but I expect Frampton to edge Santa Cruz by decision.
Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com
Carl Frampton PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: Without a significant power punch, Santa Cruz will have the same problem here he did the first time. His aggression plays into the superior counterpunching of Frampton. It should be another good, hard fight but Frampton stays a step ahead.
Michael Rosenthal, THE RING magazine editor
Carl Frampton UD 12 Leo Santa Cruz: I think we’re going to see a repeat of the first Frampton-Santa Cruz bout, perhaps even a more-dominating performance from Frampton. The Irishman is simply a better boxer and has the power to keep the always-aggressive Santa Cruz in check. I won’t be surprised if Frampton scores a knockout this time. Frampton by UD.
Jamie Sanigar, Lee Selby’s manager
Carl Frampton PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: I struggle to see Santa Cruz being able to change much from their first encounter. Frampton is able to adapt and, with the experience of winning in the U.S. last time out, I see Carl taking another points victory.
Joseph Santoliquito/THE RING magazine/RingTV.com/Sherdog/CBS Sports
Carl Frampton KO 10 Leo Santa Cruz: I see a great repeat of the first fight but, in the first fight, if you remember, Frampton did well early. All three judges agreed Frampton won the fifth through the ninth rounds. He had Santa Cruz in trouble in the second, staggering him, and I see Frampton finishing Santa Cruz this time.
Cory Spinks, former unified welterweight champion and two-time junior middleweight titlist
Carl Frampton PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: It’s going to be hard. I’ve got Carl Frampton again. I think, from the first fight, he’s got a little bit more hand speed than Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz makes mistakes. Every time he throws a combination, he drops his hands to his belt line or hits his head. If Frampton sees that, they can pinpoint on that. Go back and look at all Santa Cruz’s fights. Instead of stepping off him, jump right back on him. I think it’ll be a decision.
Dominic Verdin, RingTV.com
Leo Santa Cruz to beat Carl Frampton: Carl Frampton will not just be entering as the favorite and current WBA featherweight champion against challenger Leo Santa Cruz but the Irish superstar will be coming in as 2016 Fighter of the Year, according to RING magazine, who presented the prestigious award to the two-time division champ. Frampton, will be riding high into his first defense against the former Mexican three-division champion Santa Cruz. Frampton, the favorite coming into their rematch, will be expected to make a repeat against fan favorite Santa Cruz. I expect another close contest between the two elite featherweights, come January 28th at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Frampton will take an early lead with the 28-year-old Santa Cruz coming on with another notorious, late resurgence, in the latter rounds. We should expect a very close decision in favor of Carl Frampton. However, we will be in Vegas and that, my friends, could have us on the edge of our seats, disputing the verdict in Santa Cruz’s favor. This is boxing: The theater of the unexpected…
Michael Woods, NYFights.com, RingTV.com, Everlast podcast “TalkBOX”
Carl Frampton PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: Frampton’s confidence is crazy high. Unless he suffers a late training injury, I think he’s peaking as an athlete and cannot and will not be stopped. Carbon copy fight, as their first.
Final tally: 17-6 in favor of Carl Frampton to retain his WBA featherweight title on Saturday against Leo Santa Cruz.
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