How Will Frampton Compare to his British Counterparts on American Soil?
By: Jordan Seward
In 17 days’ time Carl Frampton (22-0-KO14) will be facing off with Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1-KO18) for the WBA Super world featherweight title in the Barclays Centre, New York.
This will be ‘The Jackal’s’ first world title fight up at featherweight after he vacated the WBA and IBF world super-bantamweight titles. The highly rated 29-year-old’s prompted move up to featherweight came after he convincingly beat bitter rival; Scott Quigg (31-1-2).
The Northern Irishmen displayed superior ring intelligence and punch prowess to defeat Quigg and claim the WBA and IBF world super-bantamweight titles. His journey so far has been a fruitful one, but his only previous experience of fighting in America didn’t go according to plan.
Prior to the domestic dust-up with Quigg, Frampton defended his IBF world super-bantamweight title against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr (25-3-2) with a unanimous decision victory, at the Don Haskins Convention Centre, El Paso, Texas.
Despite getting over the finish line, it undeniably was not the American debut Frampton would have dreamt about. He struggled to perform and was forced to climb off the canvas twice in the first round. Sometimes a champions grit, willingness and determination is called upon and Frampton duly responded, unfortunately it just wasn’t the ideal setting for that moment.
This time round, in the ‘Big Apple’, Frampton will be eager to set the record straight and show his true talents to the American boxing fans against Santa Cruz. Hitting America as a boxer is like becoming a partner at Nike, it’s like reaching the top of Machu Picchu, it’s like vacationing in Bora Bora. It’s the big time.
And for years, some of the best British boxers have crossed the Atlantic in an attempt to conquer America. Some of Frampton’s British counterparts have succeeded, some have failed. The undisputed heavyweight king, Lennox Lewis (42-2-1), initially struggled to win over the American public until he put on a dominant performance in the controversial draw with Evander Holyfield in 1999.
Out of the 44 professional fights Lewis had, 22 of them were in the United States. It was not until he became undisputed champion in Las Vegas against Holyfield that he reached superstar status alongside with the likes of Mike Tyson.
Another Brit that took America by storm was ‘Prince’ Nassem Hamed. His American debut; similarly, to Frampton but with a whole lot more drama, was a thrilling encounter that made him an instant hit. Hamed climbed off the canvas three times before stopping fan favourite Kevin Kelley in Madison Square Garden, New York.
In more recent times, Kell Brook and James DeGale have tasted success in America both winning world titles against homeland opponents. Carl Froch experienced the highs and lows of America, he was on route to a points loss to Jermaine Taylor before sensationally knocking him out in the last round, but was outclassed on American soil by Andre Ward two years later.
British hero Ricky Hatton, has hurtful memories of Las Vegas as he suffered two career-damaging losses to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. So how will Frampton compare to his British counterparts on June 30?
The Northern Irishmen made his professional debut as a featherweight and he was always a big super-bantamweight. There were strong rumours that Frampton often struggled to make the 118lb limit and there was obviously some truth in those rumours, so weight shouldn’t be an issue.
The Tiger’s Bay boxer is in with a shrewd customer in Leo Santa Cruz though, his style is bullish and aggressive and he is yet to taste defeat. It’s proven that Carl can be hurt, Gonzalez put him down twice and he isn’t renowned for being a massive puncher. ‘El Terremoto’ is the bigger fighter, standing two and a half inches taller and has an 18cm reach advantage. It’s a menacing task. Cruz’s style is problematic, Frampton will be cautious to fight on the inside, but his opponent is rangy as well.
However, Frampton has the mental attributes to stick to a game plan and possess’ the boxing tools to pick the Mexican apart. Providing the mental scars of the Gonzalez fight have healed – which they should have after the Quigg fight, he will be filled to the brim with confidence and certainly has the skills in his locker to do the job.
‘The Jackal’ prides himself on his ring intelligence and footwork and he will need to implement these skills if he is to win. His trainer Shane McGuigan is one of the hottest and most sought after trainers in boxing right now and he will be fundamental to Frampton’s chances.
Despite Britain being the desired location for the biggest fights right now, highlighted by the super-fight between Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook, America is still the place boxers want to make a name for themselves, mainly for the financial prosperity.
In recent times, the success of British boxers in America has been auspicious, although that all goes out the window at the Barclays Centre in 19 days’ time as far as Frampton’s concerned. it’s his moment now, to put his name in the spotlight and become a two weight world champion and create more British success on American soil.