Ireland awaits: Carl Frampton bids for world title once held by his manager Barry McGuigan
THIRTY years after Barry McGuigan surrendered the WBA World featherweight title on a sweltering night in the car park of Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, his prodigy Carl Frampton aims to bring the famous belt back to Ireland in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Barclays Centre, situated in the New York borough of Brooklyn, is the venue for Frampton’s historic bid to become the first Irish fighter since Steve Collins to win world titles in more than one division.
Earlier this year, Frampton fashioned another first when he unified the super bantamweight division with a split win over the WBA title holder Scott Quigg. In reality it was a relatively comfortable win for the former Irish Elite amateur champion.
Subsequently the ‘Jackal’ opted to relinquish his WBA and IBF super bantamweight belts in order to move up to the featherweight division.
Facing the fighter known as the ‘Earthquake’ this is Frampton toughest test in a heretofore unblemished career in the pro ranks. He is conceding two inches in height and eight inches in reach to the unbeaten Mexican, who has won 18 of his 32 fights by knock-outs.
According to statistics compiled by CompuBox, Santa Cruz is one of the world’s top-three fighters in four key categories – total punches thrown, landed, correct percentages and power punches thrown.
But Frampton’s key attribute is his ability to avoid opponents’ power punches so it’s not difficult to figure out what his strategy in the scheduled 12 round fight. The Belfast boxer has decent hand speed and sharp reflexes so he will punch and move.
Frampton also believes that he is more naturally suited to the 126lb featherweight division. “If I’m being entirely honest I probably grew out of the super bantamweight division about a year and a half ago.”
There is a suggestion that the Santa Cruz camp agreed to the fight on the basis of seeing Frampton struggle on his US debut in 2015 when he was knocked down twice in the first round by Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez in El Paso, though he recovered to win comfortably on points.
“People were expecting me to win the fight and I was expecting it myself and it was too much of a relaxed fell, a bit of a holiday atmosphere,” he acknowledged.
While the Frampton entourage only spend seven days in El Paso in preparation for the fight they have been in the US for the past three weeks – initially at a training camp in New Rochelle in upstate New York before moving into city last Monday.
Interestingly Leo Santa Cruz’s last fight was against Kiko Martinez, whom he knocked out in the fifth round of their fight in California last February.
Frampton is very familiar with the Spaniard having beaten him twice in 2013 and 2014 respectively in Belfast – the second win on points secured Frampton the IBF World super bantamweight title.
This is Santa Cruz first fight on the east coast of the US but he will fancy his chances of securing his thirty third professional win – probably by knock out. The bookies favour the Mexican as well.
Frampton’s ambition is to create a legacy and if he beats the bookies odds in Brooklyn and ends Santa Cruz’s unbeaten record he will certainly have achieved his ambition. But realistically the odds are stacked again him.
Tale of the Tape
Carl Frampton Tale of the Tape Leo Santa Cruz
22 Wins 32
0 Lost 0
14 Kos 18
0 Draws 1
22 Total Bouts 33
64% KO% 55%
5’5’’ Height 5’7’’
62” Reach 70”
Orthodox Stance Orthodox
February 21, 1987 Date of Birth August 10th 1988