Carl Frampton hands Leo Santa Cruz first defeat, captures title

Carl Frampton hands Leo Santa Cruz first defeat, captures title

By Daniel Zaldivar

July 31, 2016


Carl Frampton celebrates after hearing the judges' scorecards in his favor. Photo: AmandaWestcott/SHOWTIME.  

Carl Frampton celebrates after hearing the judges' scorecards in his favor. Photo: AmandaWestcott/SHOWTIME.  

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - Nicknamed 'The Jackal,' Carl Frampton captured the WBA world title in his debut bout at featherweight, after defeating Leo Santa Cruz on Saturday July 30, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

After defeating the United Kingdom's Scott Quigg earlier this year, Frampton's call to fight Santa Cruz was answered and delivered. The Northern Ireland fighter [Frampton] participated in his second bout in the United States and had plenty of fans in attendance for his historic win. Frampton, 29, relied heavily on his head movement and footwork in order to secure the judges' scorecards in his favor. 

Distance, control, and the game was to hit him hard and make him earn my respect from the first couple of rounds.
— Carl Frampton

Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) once again demonstrated his memorable style by throwing numerous amounts of punches. Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs), whether wanting to or not, had to engage at times in order to remain competitive with the Los Angeles native. Both fighters possessed nearly identical numbers in connected punches as Santa Cruz landed 255 of 1002, while Frampton ended the night with 242 of 668 total shots. However, it was Frampton who found openings for the more defining shots, as his counter punching ability stayed consistent from the very first round. The 27-year-old Santa Cruz found himself temporarily hurt with under a minute left in the second round when Frampton connected with a sweeping left-hook to the temple that sent him to the ropes in immediate defense. 

Santa Cruz was more of the predator by taking the fight to Frampton, which forced exciting exchanges. Frampton was criticized after his previous bout against Quigg for not engaging and meeting hype expectations, however, Santa Cruz's high-punch output left no choice for Frampton not to fight back. Two of the three ringside judges recognized Frampton's effort in fighting and landing on the taller Santa Cruz and ultimately delivered scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114.  

Maybe the judges thought the people screaming for him, that’s why they gave him the points for the little hits he throw — the people cheer for him. My dad (Jose Santa Cruz) said we won the fight, but it was a pretty close fight. Frampton is a great champion and lets have the rematch.
— Leo Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, who lost the [WBA] world title he has held since defeating Abner Mares in August of last year, came into this fight with an influx of emotions. His father and head trainer [Jose Santa Cruz] is currently in the remission stages of a cancer battle and [Leo] Santa Cruz nearly cancelled the bout, but his father encouraged him to continue and experience stepping into the ring in New York for the first time. 

Frampton is now on the 126 pound radar as a result of capturing a title, but could possibly find himself in a rematch with Santa Cruz in his next bout, which he has stated he would want in his home country of Ireland. Other title holders in the division include the U.K's[IBF title holder] Lee Selby and [WBC title holder] Gary Russel Jr of Washington D.C.

All these guys — I would love a rematch with Leo. He gave me the opportunity. I would love to bring him to Belfast and show the people of Belfast an amazing fighter. I’d be happy to do Lee Selby who’s someone that I respect greatly — an amazing fighter. I would also like to do that with a good relationship with his team, and whoever, Gary Russel, all these guys, you know I want to fight the best. I want to be involved in big memorable fights.
— Carl Frampton

Daniel Zaldivar is a boxing contributor for Frontproof Media & Page2sports.com. He is the founder of Z-BoxingNews (a partner with Frontproof Media), a YouTube channel that delivers the latest news, interviews, fighter workouts, & analysis within the sport. Check out the Z-BoxingNews YouTube channel HERE. Also follow on Twitter @Z_BoxingNews

(Feature photo: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions)

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