Santa Cruz Plays It Smart In Victory Over Frampton
Santa Cruz Plays It Smart In Victory Over Frampton
by John Freund
On Saturday night at the MGM in Las Vegas, before a crowd of 10,085 in attendance, Leo Santa Cruz did exactly what he didn’t do in his first meeting with Carl Frampton – exploited his long reach to keep Frampton outside, and maintained his composure as he fought with his head and not just his hands.
‘Discipline’ was the word of the day for Santa Cruz, having thrown over 1,000 punches in their last contest, and whose style is that of an aggressive, high-volume puncher. Many, including myself, believed that Santa Cruz knew only one way to fight: straight ahead. But the Mexican-American proved us wrong by taking his time and picking his spots, something he said he would do coming into the fight.
“My head was telling me to pressure him, but my dad and corner were telling me to box him,” Santa Cruz told reporters in the post-fight presser. “Before the fight I said I wanted revenge and I wanted to work hard. I went to the gym and I worked hard and I did what I had to do.”
Steering clear of Frampton’s inside game limited the Irishman’s connect percentage. Frampton only connected on 15% of his jabs and 26% of his power punches. Santa Cruz bested him in both categories, notching 19% and 32%, respectively. It was a very different story in their first fight, where Frampton was able to use Santa Cruz’s trademark aggressiveness to his advantage. He evaded the 3-time World Champion’s lunging strikes and counterpunched with fierce efficiency, even knocking Santa Cruz off his balance in the second round, a feat which surprised many given Frampton’s step up in weight for the bout. But Santa Cruz played it smart this time by utilizing his 2.5-inch reach advantage to control the tempo and distance of the fight. That strategy prompted Frampton to be the aggressor at times that he probably didn’t want to be, given his penchant for playing defense and counterpunching. There were moments where the Irishman achieved success, like he did in rounds 6 through 8 when Santa Cruz seemed tired and inexplicably forgot his jab, but for the most part Santa Cruz held his distance and fought the urge to trade inside with his shorter and scrappier opponent.
“The brawler was outboxing the boxer,” Frampton said in his post-fight interview. “He was very clever and he used his reach. I think he deserved it. I’m being honest, I think he deserved it.”
All said it was a very even fight, much more so than their first affair which Frampton won handily. The official scorecards read 114-114, and two 115-113’s. Santa Cruz likely pulled out the win with some key exchanges that nabbed him close rounds. Round 4 was a barn-burner that saw both men trade vicious blows as Frampton was finally able to move inside and Leo stood toe-to-toe with him. But Santa Cruz ended the round with a beautiful uppercut that sent Frampton to the canvas in what was ruled a slip by referee Kenny Bayless. Nonetheless, brief exchanges such as those likely won tight rounds for Santa Cruz – and ultimately gave him the victory.
Luckily for boxing fans, both men have expressed their eagerness for a third fight.
“Of course I want the rematch,” Santa Cruz declared. “I’m a man of my word and I said if I won that I would give him the trilogy.”
Prior to the fight, Frampton acknowledged his desire to unify the Featherweight titles against fellow UK Featherweight champion Lee Selby later this year in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Obviously those plans are now on hold, as he first needs to win the rubber match in order to regain his share of the Featherweight crown. But Frampton is already angling for the fight to take place in his native Ireland.
“Let’s do it again,” Frampton cheered. “I hope he’s a man of his word and comes to Belfast. I hope he does.”
PBC on NBC Undercard Results: Postol and Collazo Win Easily, Hardy Fights to a No Contest
By: William Holmes
The Premier Boxing Champions series on NBC solidified their debut in Brooklyn, New York, at the Barclays Center with a strong undercard featuring several former Olympians and local talent from the New York City area.
The first bout on the undercard was between Stephon McIntyre (2-7-2) and Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett (7-0) in the featherweight division.
At first, McIntyre looked better than his record suggested, as he willingly exchanged with Burnett in the first round and was able to sufficiently block most of Burnett’s blows. Burnett adjusted his offense towards the end of the first round to get past McIntyre’s high guard and focused on the body. Burnett landed a left hook to the body at the end of the first that sent McIntyre to the mat grimacing in pain and unable to get up.
Ryan Burnett made quick work of Stephon McIntyre by knockout at 2:59 of the first round.
The second bout of the night was between undefeated Brooklyn native Heather Hardy (12-0) and Renata Domsodi (11-6) in the junior featherweight division.
Domsodi, a forty-year-old, was wearing bandage or a wrap on both knees and she was significantly slower than Hardy and was in a blatant mismatch. Hardy walked Domsodi from the first round on and was able to land punches on the body and head of her opponent nearly every time she threw a punch.
A large marjority of the small number of fans in attendance for the undercard were supporting Hardy and Domsodi was giving them little reason to worry about a loss. The only offense that Domsodi was able to muster was an occasional jab.
Hardy continued to walk Domsodi down in the third round, but caused a cut by her right eye after an accidental head butt. The ring side doctor took a quick look at her and let her continue, but Hardy immediately jumped on Domsodi and continued to pound her opening up the cut even worse. Domsodi complained about the blood near her eye and the referee waved off the fight.
Since the cut was caused by an accidental head butt before the fourth round, the fight was stopped at 1:57 of the third round and ruled a no contest.
The next bout of the night was between local favorite Luis Collazo (35-6) and Chris Degollado (10-4) in the welterweight division.
Collazo is an established veteran who still has some good fights left in him, and his edge in experience was evident in the first round. Collazo, a southpaw, was able to shoulder roll most of Degollado punches in the first round and was waiting for the right moment to land a good counter punch. He didn’t have to wait long, as he connected with a rising lead right hook on Degollado that had him badly stunned and backing into a corner. Collazo jumped on Degollado and landed several more telling blows before the referee jumped in to stop the bout.
The stoppage might have been a bit premature, but Degollado was clearly in over his head. The referee stopped the bout 1:46 of the second round to give Collazo the TKO victory.
Daniel Calzada (11-13-2) met Prichard Colon (13-0) in the junior middleweight division.
Colon looked to be a good half foot taller than Calzada and he used his reach and height to his advantage. He fought at a safe distance and landed quick combinations on Calzada throughout the bout and looked very comfortable.
Calzada was short with his punches and was never able to get within punching distance of his opponent. Calzada was wobbled in the second round by a lead left uppercut, a punch that landed with regularity for Colon.
Colon might have been content to get some work in, as he never showed a strong desire to try and finish the fight. It might have cost him some fans, as Calzada appeared to be an opponent that he should have been able to finish, and at times the bout seemed repetitive and unexciting.
Colon would have been wise to take some risks and try to finish the fight emphatically, but he never stepped on the gas pedal to try and finish his opponent.
Colon was continuing to play it safe in the ninth round when the referee inexplicably stopped the fight after Colon landed a good left uppercut, but not an uppercut that appeared to hurt Calzada badly. The crowd was not supportive of the decision to stop the fight and let their voices be heard.
Colon won by TKO at 1:38 of the ninth round .
The final untelevised undercard bout was between Viktor Postol (26-0) and Jake Giuriceo (17-2-1) in the welterweight division.
Postol was supposed to be the mandatory challenger for Danny Garcia’s WBC Junior Welterweight title, but he accepted some step-aside money so that Garcia could face Lamont Peterson first.
This would have been a good opportunity for Postol to impress a fan base that might not have been too familiar with his work, but he was not impressive tonight.
Postol looked to be a good half-foot taller than his opponent and was able to fight safely and effectively without taking many risks. At times the fight looked like a sparring contest, as Giuriceo’s punches lacked any power when he was able to land, but for the most part he was a moving punching bag.
Giuriceo’s one good moment in the fight came in the beginning of the third round, when he surprised Postol with a two-hook combination, but Postol quickly settled back down and soundly outboxed the smaller Giuriceo.
Postol did have Giuriceo momentarily hurt in the fourth round, but did not score any knockdowns in a rather uneventful bout.
The judges scored it 79-73, 80-72, and 80-72 for Viktor Postol.