Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Santa Cruz vs. Frampton, Garcia vs. Rojas
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) will put on a stacked card on Showtime and Showtime Extreme live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The main event of the evening will feature a WBA Featherweight Title bout between Mexican brawler Leo Santa Cruz and Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton. This is one of the best bouts that could be made in the featherweight division.
Mikey Garcia, who is returning from an extended layoff, will be returning to the ring since formally splitting from Top Rank in a tune up fight against Elio Rojas in the co-main event of the evening.
The undercard is also stacked and will feature several good bouts. Sergey Rabchnko and Tony Harrison will compete in an IBF Junior Middleweight eliminator. Paulie Malignaggi will face fellow Brooklyn native Gabriel Bracero in a welterweight bout, and Philadelphia native Tevin Farmer will face the tough Ivan Redkach in a lightweight bout.
The following is a preview of the main event and co-main event of the evening.
Mikey Garcia (34-0) vs. Elio Rojas (24-2); Junior Welterweights
Mikey Garcia has not fought in over two years, and the last time he was in the ring he was fighting in the super featherweight division. He is jumping up two weight classes and normally ring rust would be a major factor going into this fight. However, his opponent Elio Rojas fought zero times in 2015, once in 2014, and zero times in 2013 and will also be experiencing ring rust. Rojas also last fought in the featherweight weight class.
Garcia is five years younger than Rojas, but will be giving up two inches in reach. Garcias is the more powerful puncher and has stopped twenty eight of his opponents, and won three of his last five fights by KO/TKO. Rojas only has fourteen stoppage victories on his resume, and only has one stoppage win in his past five fights.
Both boxers had good amateur careers. Rojas won the bronze medal in the World Championships as an amateur and won gold medals in various regional amateur tournaments. Garcia is a bronze medalist in the National Golden Gloves and a Silver Medalist in the US PAL Cadet Championships.
Rojas is a former WBC Featherweight World Champion. His biggest wins were against Takahiro Ao and Guty Espadas. His losses were to Jhonny Gonzalez and Gamaliel Diaz.
Garcia has a much more impressive professional resume. He has defeated, easily, the likes of Juan Carlos Burgos, Roman Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Orlando Salido, and Jonathan Victor Barros.
Garcia had a long and expensive fight with Top Rank Promotions to be let out of his contract, and his inactivity might be evident in the ring. However, Top Rank fought so hard with Garcia because he is an elite talent with a growing fan base.
If Garcia was fighting a legitimate junior welterweight contender, his inactivity and smaller size might be of worry. However, he’s fighting a boxer who is also making the jump up weight classes and has also been very inactive.
This is a bout that Garcia should win, quite easily.
Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1) vs. Carl Frampton (22-0); WBA Featherweight Title
The main event of the evening is an excellent matchup and one of the best fights that could be made in the featherweight division.
Santa Cruz has expressed interest in moving up in weight after this bout, and he has the frame to pack on a few more pounds without sacrificing too much in performance. Santa Cruz is two and a half inches taller than Frampton and will have an imposing seven inch reach advantage.
Both boxers have similar knockout ratios. Santa Cruz has stopped eighteen opponents in thirty three fights, while Frampton has stopped fourteen opponents in twenty two fights. However, Santa Cruz has three stoppage wins in his past five fights while Frampton has two stoppage wins in his past five fights.
Both boxers have also been fairly active. They both fought once in 2016, and Frampton fought twice in 2015 while Santa Cruz fought three times in 2015.
Both boxers had some moderate success as an amateur. Santa Cruz was a Gold Medalist in the International Junior Olympics Tournament and a Silver Medalist in the US National Championships. Frampton was an Irish National Champion as an amateur and had moderate success on the international stage as an amateur.
Santa Cruz has defeated the likes of Kiko Martinez, Abner Mares, Jesus Ruiz, Cristian Mijares, Victor Terrazas, and Eric Morel. Frampton has defeated the likes of Scott Quigg, Chris Avalos, Alejandro Gonzalez, Kiko Martinez (twice), and Steve Molitor.
The seven inch reach advantage will likely play a huge factor on Saturday night. Santa Cruz is also a volume puncher, and that will make it very difficult for Frampton to get within his range and inflict damage upon his opponent.
Santa Cruz is not known for his defensive abilities, but his nonstop offense is his best defense. This bout will likely go all twelve rounds, and Frampton will likely have a large number of fans from the United Kingdom in attendance, but Santa Cruz has to be considered the favorite to walk away the victor.
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