On July 30 last year, the bout between then World Boxing Association featherweight (126 pounds) champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1 with 18 knockouts) of Mexico and Carl Frampton (23-0 with 14 KOs) of Northern Ireland, then the WBA and International Boxing Federation super bantamweight (122 pounds) champion, turned out to be one of the better fights in 2016 even if it wasn’t hyped up.
Both fighters entered the ring undefeated in July last year and to the surprise of some observers, it turned out to be very competitive. For one, Frampton was the shorter fighter at 5’5” (as opposed to Santa Cruz who was 5’7.5”) and was climbing up to featherweight, which was a risky move. Santa Cruz also had a significant seven-inch reach advantage over his opponent. The Mexican could also be an unforgiving brawler in the ring and had the tools to bully his shorter opponent. That did not happen.
Instead, Frampton showed a lot of heart by slugging it out with the Mexican and even staggered Santa Cruz in the second round. When the dust settled, one judge had it 114-114, while the two other judges had it 112-116 and 111-117 for Frampton. While the two cards favoring Frampton could be the subject of debate because some saw the fight as a close one, it was obvious Frampton was the winner.
The good news is Frampton and Santa Cruz will be squaring off again this weekend and should not be missed.
A fighter from any part of the United Kingdom facing a Mexican is actually such a rare occurrence in boxing today, and it is more common to see Mexicans beating each other up at the elite level. Modern boxing actually had its roots in England in the 18th century and the reign of James Figg, who held the heavyweight title from 1719 to 1730, helped fuel the sport’s popularity in the country.
Fighters from any part of the United Kingdom are usually well-versed in the overall skill set of boxing, and it is no surprise that country produces some of the best boxers who have outstanding defensive skills. On the other hand, Mexico is known to produce brawlers and sluggers, and boxers like Juan Manuel Marquez, who is an “offensive counterpuncher,” are a rarity.
So when a boxer from any part of the UK fights with a Mexican brawler, fans would likely see a clash of styles. But in the case of the first Santa Cruz-Frampton fight, the fighter from Northern Ireland showed the guts of his bare knuckled counterparts who don’t care if their noses or faces get bloodied. And the bare knuckled fighters of Northern Ireland are known to throw out skills in the heat of battle if only to show their style of fighting is only for real men.
So this weekend, it would be interesting to see once again how a Mexican brawler in Santa Cruz would handle a fighter who has the guts of a Northern Ireland bare knuckled fighter in Frampton. Mexican fighters do have guts and are insane to a point of being suicidal in the ring, but people from Northern Ireland are also known to be very tough given the somewhat challenging environment they live in.
As to who will win the Santa Cruz-Frampton rematch, however, can be anybody’s guess. So I won’t make any predictions.