It was a matchup of unbeaten fighters in their prime, promising to be a true main event. It was. Tonight in front of a crowd of just around 9,000 that sounded like a crowd three times that size, Carl Frampton defeated Leo Santa Cruz by majority decision to win the WBA featherweight title, and become history’s first two-weight world champion from Northern Ireland.
Frampton (23-0, 14 KO) started fast, nullifying Santa Cruz’s usual aggressive attacks by catching him with clean counter shots, moving his head really well, and keeping the pace where he wanted it. But Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KO) never gave up on the fight at all, and clawed his way into it in the middle rounds and into the late rounds. On our card, he won the last three, coming to an even 114-114. Judge Guido Cavalleri saw it the same, but was overruled by Frank Lombardi and Tom Schreck, who scored it 116-112 and 117-111, respectively, for Frampton.
It was a hell of a fight, worth catching on replay if you missed it live tonight, one of the best-matched and most exciting fights of 2016. It never quite had that overwhelming huge dramatic turn, but it was just a good fight from start to finish, both guys showing skill, stamina, and desire. There’s not a lot more to say about it than that.
With the win, Frampton could now be in line to unify against IBF featherweight titleholder Lee Selby or WBC titleholder Gary Russell Jr, with all fighters under the PBC banner. A rematch with Santa Cruz, though it certainly seems desirable, probably won’t come next. In the meantime, we’ll have to see how Santa Cruz reacts to his first pro loss, but gut feeling says he’ll be fine.
What did you think of the fight tonight, and how did you score it?