After last weekend gave us the chance to catch our collective breath, Saturday night follows up the success of Jack-DeGale with another top-level bout between arguably the two best men at their weight. The fact that it’s a rematch of one of the better fights of 2016 is an added bonus. Still not sold? How about a fine co-feature for a world title at lightweight? A couple of near-guaranteed action fights across the road on the other station?
Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz II
A rematch of last July’s encounter, immediate or otherwise, felt close to an inevitability from the moment that Frampton first hoisted high the WBA belt.
It doesn’t require a particularly lively imagination to envisage Part II picking up where we left off. Better still, it feels highly unlikely that the rerun fails to deliver.
In betting terms, Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) triumphing over Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) was a long way from 2016’s biggest upset, but it was arguably both the highest profile and the most significant. The wave of late pro-Santa Cruz money in the hours that led up to the first bell meant that, at a price that drifted as far as +300 (3/1), Frampton was then not only the underdog for the first time in his professional career, but a sizeable one. Stripping back the odds to their implied probability, that meant some layers were giving Frampton no more than a 25% chance of success. It was, to others, a fight that appeared far, far closer, and Frampton backers availed themselves of the considerable value on offer.
Second time around, however, a fight that feels like something close to resembling a 50/50 is priced more sensibly. Ahead of the rematch, it’s the Ulsterman who’s the favourite – and, interestingly, this time the trend in the market has gone steadily the other way. The bookmakers opened back in late summer at pick ‘em prices – Frampton then -125 (4/5, with both Coral and Irish firm Paddy Power), -110 (10/11), and even slender underdog (+110, 11/10). Since then – particularly with books across Europe and in the UK – it’s been one-way traffic, and all for Frampton. He’s been steadily cut on a near weekly basis from -133 (3/4), to -137 (8/11), to -150 (4/6), right through until time of writing, where he’s settled at -187 (8/15) with the most wary of layers, with the -137 (8/11) now the best price across the industry.
What that means, of course, is that it’s now Santa Cruz who finds himself in the unfamiliar position of betting outsider, with his previous win against Abner Mares (Santa Cruz -230) the closest he’d flirted with the even money mark before facing Frampton, when he went off around -225 (4/9). Here,
Despite the change in location – from the Barclays Center, New York over to the MGM Grand, Las Vegas – it’s likely that Frampton will again feel like the home fighter, with a highly-vocal Irish and British contingent travelling to the west coast in numbers not seen since Ricky Hatton’s prime. The nature of the first bout suggests that another nip-and-tuck battle awaits, and punters may well look to the prop markets for chunkier prices. Frampton to get a points nod – again – can be found at a standout +150 (6/4), with Santa Cruz as big as +280 (14/5) to win on the cards. Given how close each man ran each other last time out, there’s every chance that we’ll see a similar outcome to Frampton’s majority decision, and that precise method of victory is available at a sizeable +1800 (18/1), albeit does rely on a handy combination of scoring to see you through. It’s +900 (9/1) that the Jackal claims a split decision, while you can back Santa Cruz at +2000 (20/1) for the MD and +1000 (10/1) for the split. Those willing to side with a more definitive outcome may find more appeal in the unanimous decisions, with +250 (5/2) for Frampton to sweep the cards, and Santa Cruz +500 (5/2) to do the same. Another jackpot-style price can be found on the draw, should you fancy wagering that 2017’s second big fight results in a second stalemate, and it’s +2000 (20/1) that both men get their hand raised. Arguments can be made for each.
The oddsmakers go -187 (8/15) that we see the full twelve rounds, with +162, or 13/8 that it’s stopped – the same price as the Frampton and Santa Cruz wins outright respectively. Neither struggled massively with the other’s power and, barring a fleeting moment in the second round where Frampton staggered his man, it rarely looked anything other than bound for the judges. That said, the pace was frenetic enough to suggest that the repeat could boil over into more of a firefight. It’s +350 (7/2) that Frampton wins by KO/TKO, with his last stoppage win registered nearly two years ago against Chris Avalos (Frampton was a -900, 1/9 favourite). Three of Santa Cruz’s last five wins have come inside the distance – though, clearly, none of those who were finished off were on the same kind of level as Frampton. It’s +500 (5/1) that the Mexican notches a 19th career knockout.
Mikey Garcia (-225, 4/9) vs. Dejan Zlaticanin (+225, 9/4)
Lee Selby (-1200, 1/12) vs. Jonathan Victor Barros (+1100, 11/1)
Francisco Vargas (-137, 8/11) vs. Miguel Berchelt (+125, 5/4)
Takashi Miura (-120, 5/6) vs. Miguel Roman (+125, 5/4)