Aftermath: Frampton vs Santa Cruz 2
Leo Santa Cruz gained revenge versus Carl Frampton after a hard fought 12 rounds on Saturday night in Las Vegas. In the aftermath, Boxing Monthly had some burning questions we wanted answering. James Oddy, Luke Byron, Callum Rudge and Luke G. Williams from our online team provided the answers...
BM: How did you score the fight? Did you agree with the decision?
JO: I had it 117-111. Wider than any of the judges, but for me Santa Cruz was in almost complete control, with that jab setting the tone and pace.
LB: I scored it 114-114, with Frampton just nicking the last round through his aggression to take the draw.
CR: I scored it a draw but have absolutely no issue with Santa Cruz getting the nod. I imagine if I watched it again I would give a couple more of the early rounds to Santa Cruz.
LW: 115-113 to Santa Cruz, just like two of the judges. It was a good decision and refreshing to see no carping about the result, with even Frampton appearing to say he thought Leo deserved to get the nod.
BM: Were you surprised how effectively Santa Cruz managed to alter his tactical approach?
JO: I was. I did mention in my prediction that I felt he'd use his jab and box more after it worked well in the first fight, but I fully expected him to lose discipline at some stage and start trading. I've always liked Santa Cruz but I was guilty of under-estimating his versatility.
LB: I was very surprised, I was one of the people that said I didn't think Leo could fight any other way but he definitely proved me wrong. I think he shocked Frampton and threw him off too.
CR: Yes I was, I was always slightly suspicious of Santa Cruz. I felt he was someone who was well matched and scarily big at the weight, whether that be 118, 122 or 126. He clearly has another dimension and some variety to his game. He shut down Frampton's offense and counter-punched exceptionally well. He can't be given enough credit for that.
LW: No. Sorry if that sounds smug, but this was a rare occasion when a fight played out exactly as I thought it would and exactly how I predicted! I thought the first fight was extremely close, I scored it a draw if I remember rightly, and prior to the rematch felt that Leo would and could make the adjustments he needed to win. He was clearly burning with determination to avenge the sole defeat on his record and got his tactics spot on.
BM: In Boxing Monthly's last P4P rankings most people ranked Frampton in the lower reaches of the top ten. Does he now cede that place to Santa Cruz?
JO: That's a tough one! I tend to pick my top ten based on ability and victories, and i still think Frampton's ability has a higher ceiling. So no, but Frampton falls a few places.
LB: Not yet I'd say, I still believe Frampton is the better and more versatile fighter but if Santa Cruz can win the rubber match then I'd say they would trade places.
CR: That's a more difficult question to answer than it should be. While it would be natural to assume Santa Cruz would take Frampton's place in the rankings, I would hesitate in doing that. For me P4P is about pure boxing ability regardless of size (hence why I never rank heavyweights). I also judge fighters on their entire career instead of one win. While I think Santa Cruz should be in the conversation when it comes to P4P, the fight was close so I won't be giving away Frampton's spot yet.
LW: I'd rank Frampton and Santa Cruz about level on the outer reaches of my top ten. I think I had Frampton ninth last time so I'd probably now bump Canelo Alvarez up one place and have Carl and Leo in equal tenth.
BM: Looks like we will get a rubber match now. Is this a 50-50 fight or has Leo now wrested the initiative?
JO: Despite my belief that Frampton has a better skill set, I found it surprising on Saturday that he and his corner couldn't figure out a way to adjust during the fight - especially as in the build-up they mentioned that Santa Cruz might look to box more. I'd love a rubber match, and you would imagine with more prep they could work out how to neutralise it. So i pick Frampton, although it'll be bloody close!
LB: I still think it's a 50/50 fight. Both teams have shown they can out-think the other now and it'll be very interesting to see who can drum up and initiate the better game play in the third fight. It'd be great to have it in Belfast but I think that's just wishful thinking!
CR: Yes absolutely. Santa Cruz has found a way to win and it's he that now has the psychological advantage. It's up to Frampton, should there be a rubber match, to adapt and find another way to win. Especially as it seems neither has the power to stop the other. Neither fighter has looked anymore than temporarily buzzed in either fight so both of them are destined to fight each other in 12 round barn-burners for the rest of their careers.
LW: These two are so well matched that I don't think either man can approach a third contest with total confidence. The location of the fight will have a huge bearing on it. If it's in Belfast I make Frampton favourite, back in Vegas I might just favour Santa Cruz again. Whatever the outcome, this respectful rivalry between two fantastic fighters and total gentlemen has been brilliant for boxing. After a disappointing 2016, the sport has started this year with a real bang.