Friday, February 3, 2017

Belated Frampton-Santa Cruz II Thoughts

One of the appeals of the sport of Boxing and by extension all of combat sports beyond the anticipation of fight between two world-class competitors is what may follow coming out of a fight for the participants involved. When it comes to fights that have a lot of back and forth action, no matter the outcome, it is natural for both Boxing fans and experts alike to almost immediately question in the aftermath of a “Great” fight is how long will it be before the combatants square off again.

Such was the case when world champions Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton met in July of last year for Santa Cruz' WBA Featherweight world championship at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. In what was a thrilling encounter that saw plenty of back and forth action, it was Frampton emerged victorious  claiming his second world championship, after previously holding a unified world championship in the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division, with a close majority decision over Santa Cruz. It was not long before discussion among both fan and expert alike began with regard to a potential rematch between the two.

When periodically asked over the years for my opinion on what sets up the ingredients for a rematch, it is natural for this observer to look for circumstances as to why a rematch, particularly an immediate rematch should be made such as a controversial decision or stoppage. There are some occasions however, where demand for a rematch has less to do with subjects regarding potential controversy and more to do with what can happen when two great fighters are brought together to showcase their skills against each other. Sometimes it can be a simple matter of the two best fighters in their division, who treated the Boxing world to a classic the last time they fought, looking to prove themselves by facing that opponent one more time.

The rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz took place on January 28th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Much as was the case when the two world champions met last year, the second encounter featured several close rounds and there is likely a difference of opinion as to who was able to get the upper hand. Unlike the first battle between Frampton and Santa Cruz, the rematch was more of a tactical Boxing match rather than the thrilling back and forth encounter that was the story of the first fight.

Whenever a rematch approaches an obvious question that goes through my mind is who will be able to make adjustments in the rematch compared to how the first fight was fought. In the first encounter between Frampton and Santa Cruz, it was Santa Cruz' overall aggression that dictated how the fight was fought. Despite Santa Cruz’ aggression in the first fight, Frampton was able to counter punch effectively and was able to land the more effective punches in action-packed battle.  The rematch was again dictated by Santa Cruz, only this time he fought a more disciplined fight working behind a consistent jab, mixing in combinations, and generally getting the better of the action.

Although Frampton was able to keep the fight competitive and was able to have his share of moments particularly during rounds that were predominantly fought on the inside where he was able to win some rounds, he was not as effective in his ability to counter Santa Cruz as compared to the first fight. This along with Santa Cruz’ effective lateral movement and angles gave Santa Cruz the edge, in my opinion as I scored the fight 116-112 or eight rounds to four in his favor.

Even though as this observer has often said over the years a scorecard of 116-112 or 8-4 in rounds might give an impression of a fight that was lopsided in one fighter’s favor, it is important to remember that several of the rounds in this particular fight were close due to how effective Frampton was able to be when the combat was fought on the inside creating the scenario of “Swing Rounds” where not only one moment can sway opinion as to who won a round, but also create a difference of opinion among observers and more importantly the three official judges as to who got the upper hand.

If one takes the scenario of possible “Swing Rounds” into account, it should be no surprise that much as was the case in the first fight, the rematch between Frampton and Santa Cruz was close in terms of the official scoring as two of three official judges scored the fight in favor of Santa Cruz in rounds by margins of 8-4 and 9-3 respectfully, while the third judge scored the fight 114-114 a draw resulting in another majority decision, this time for Santa Cruz, who with the win regained the WBA Featherweight world championship.

Graphic Courtesy

A statistical breakdown of Santa Cruz’ effectiveness throughout this rematch as provided by indicates that much as was the case in the first encounter, Santa Cruz, who threw 1002 total punches landing 255 of those punches in the first fight, was nearly as active in this fight throwing 884 total punches during the twelve round bout landing 230 for a total connect percentage of 26%. In contrast to the first fight where Frampton landed 242 of 668 total punches for a connect percentage of 36%, he was not as effective in the second encounter landing only 133 of 592 total punches for a total connect percentage of just over 22%.

Although Santa Cruz was again the more active fighter in the second fight between the two, the primarily difference in a statistical sense in comparison with the first fight is Santa Cruz’ effectiveness with his jab as he landed 81 jabs in this fight compared to 64 in the first fight. The jab kept Frampton busy and he was simply unable to counter punch as effectively as he did the first time around.

With Santa Cruz and Frampton each holding a win a piece and twenty-four rounds fought in two fights, the logical question is how long will it be before the chapter in this rivalry? Although it is possible that there will be some time between the second fight and a potential third encounter between the two, I believe that a third fight should happen at some point in the future. Although there likely remains a difference of opinion among both Boxing fans and experts alike as to who won the two encounters between the two, an ingredient that normally fuels demand for a trilogy, what has been noticeably absent have been elements of controversy, questions of potential corruption, and simply things that would be considered by most to be a black eye for the sport.

What has instead been noticeable about the rivalry between Santa Cruz and Frampton is simply a respect for each other’s skill as well as “Class” and “Professionalism” being shown by both “Champions.” It is something that frankly the sport of Boxing could use more of.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

Frampton-Santa Cruz II stats and graphic provided by Used with permission. You can score live fights by downloading the free Throwdown Scoring app on Google Play or on Apple ITunes. For more information please visit:

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