Leo Santa Cruz Outboxes Carl Frampton To Regain Featherweight Title
Saturday’s highly-anticipated rubber match between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz lived up to and possibly exceeded their first New York meeting. In a closely-fought battle, in front of a raucous crowd of both foreign and domestic fans, Santa Cruz defeated Frampton by majority decision to regain the WBA featherweight title in Las Vegas.
Looking new and improved with the full-time return of his father/trainer Jose Santa Cruz to his corner, who was undergoing treatment for stage 3 spine cancer in the lead up to the first meeting, the younger Santa Cruz out-boxed and out-maneuvered Frampton to capture the win. His performance not only displayed a solid game plan, but the necessary presence of the only trainer he’s ever had in his corner.
“Before the fight, I said I wanted revenge and I wanted to work hard,” said Santa Cruz. “I went to the gym and I worked hard, and I did what I had to do.
“My head was telling me to go forward and pressure him, but my dad and corner were telling me to box him. That’s what I had to do. I always fight for the fans, but tonight I fought for myself too.”
The closely-contested rounds featured Santa Cruz finding success as the clear boxer instead of assuming his customary brawler role. Keeping Frampton at bay with head-snapping jab-cross combos, Santa Cruz was able to keep the former champion uncomfortable and second-guessing his plan of attack. Unwilling to go down without a fight, Frampton attempted to force Santa Cruz into a battle off the ropes, but the champion found a way to side-step the onslaught and fight his way out. In the end, the judges scored the contest 114-114 draw, and 115-113 twice.
“He was very clever and he used his reach. I think he deserved it,” said Frampton. “I’m being honest. But it was a very good fight. I think I can perform slightly better. No excuses.
With both expressing interest in a trilogy, eyes now turn toward Belfast as the staging site for the third and perhaps deciding showdown.
Mikey Garcia Defeats Dejan Zlaticanin By Devastating 3rd Round KO
After a long lay-off, the return to the top was clear and decisive for Mikey Garcia.
With a blood-curdling uppercut-cross combination leading the way, Garcia defeated previously unbeaten WBC lightweight world champion Dejan Zlaticanin by knockout to become a three-division world champion.
Appearing completely at ease for as long as it lasted, Garcia kept Zlaticanin on his heels, connecting with hard, stiff jabs and harder overhand rights. Able to position the former champion against the ropes, Garcia launched a ferocious uppercut that sent Zlaticanin into dreamland just outside of the ring on the apron.
For several precarious minutes Zlaticanin appeared to be unresponsive, but ultimately was able to regain his footing. During the post-fight interview, a respectful Garcia expressed relief at seeing his opponent sit up before sharing his thoughts on the title win.
“I’m thankful Dejan, my opponent, is okay now,” Garcia said. “We never wish any bad on anyone in this sport, and I’m glad he was able to get up and be OK. I wished him a great career still, and he said thank you. I told him he’s still a champion. Once a champion, always a champion.
“He kept coming in, and I saw the opportunity for the uppercut. He was hurt. When he turned back to look at me, I knew he was hurt ,and I went for the overhand right. I saw it in his eyes. It was just the perfect time and perfect distance.
“I think the lay-off allowed me to reignite my fire and my passion, and bring back that love for the sport. And in that two-and-a-half year layoff, I always had the support of my loyal fans.”
With the win, Garcia now looks to the future and a unification bout against the winner of the upcoming Jorge Linares vs. Anthony Crolla bout.
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Josh Taylor def. Alfonso Olvera by unanimous decision: 79-72, 78-73, 78-73