Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, July 30, 2016
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Weight Class: Featherweight: 12 Rounds
Titles: WBA Featherweight Title
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Leo Santa Cruz, 32-0-1 (18 KOs), Rosemead, California
Carl Frampton, 22-0 (14 KOs), Belfast, Northern Ireland
Betting Odds: Leo Santa Cruz -185, Carl Frampton +155
Leo Santa Cruz defends his WBA featherweight title against unbeaten Irish star Carl Frampton. Fans should expect a fever-pitched battle between two fighters who haven't lost in a combined 55 fights. Santa Cruz, 27, and Frampton, 29, are each facing their toughest-ever opponent and we could have one of those classic featherweight brawls on our hands in Brooklyn on July 30. Santa Cruz is a -185 favorite, with the visiting Irishman a small +155 underdog. Who comes out ahead in this battle? The winner of this fight will have the kind of signature win that could have his name near the top of the pound-for-pound list.
Both men have moved up in weight. This is Frampton's first 126-pound bout after a nice run as a 122-pound titleholder. Santa Cruz has reigned as a titleholder at bantamweight, before moving to 122, and then featherweight. Santa Cruz, however, is a little longer—a few inches taller at 5'7" and with a considerable 7-inch reach advantage. And despite being a few years younger, Santa Cruz has been a pro for two years longer than Frampton.
There is some understandable frustration with the career course of Santa Cruz. Despite being one of the best from 118-126 for a number of years now, this is really his first real test against a prime A-level opponent. Two wins ago, he beat Abner Mares, who may be past his best. In his last fight, he decimated Kiko Martinez. His best wins include triumphs over Mares, Martinez, and former champ Cristian Mijares. Frampton, however, represents by far his toughest assignment.
Frampton is coming off his best win—a split decision over unbeaten fellow titleholder Scott Quigg that should have been scored unanimously for Frampton. In his previous fight, he was dropped twice before overcoming upstart Alejandro Gonzalez, Jr. Before that, he beat Chris Avalos and Martinez. Other than Guillermo Rigondeaux, he was seen as the top 122-pounder in the world. He now looks to rise 4 pounds and score what would be a truly huge win—one of the bigger wins on the road ever for an Irish fighter. A lot is at stake for both fighters. The stakes—to go from just another champion to a bonafide star.
I have a few issues with Santa Cruz. When he first burst on the scene several years ago, he was a relentless pressure fighter who went to the body as well as anyone in the sport. But as the months and years eventually peeled off, he seemed to go a bit flat. Opponent after opponent seemed to be chosen almost randomly, with no discernible trajectory to his career. He started rising in weight in almost willy-nilly fashion. And as he has risen in weight, the affects of his punches seemed to have declined. His fine edge has seemingly dulled. In his most recent fights, it seemed like he should have created more separation from an at least slightly shopworn Mares. And while he blasted Martinez out in his last fight in just five rounds, his performance wasn't very artful, as he just used his superior talent to somewhat mindlessly chop away at his waning opponent.
Santa Cruz has relied on things like energy, legs, youth, and enthusiasm. And as he ages, we'll see if he can compensate with other things. The good—he's a real fighter, a true Mexican warrior. It's hard to remember a time when he was wobbled. The flip side is the fact that he's pretty easy to hit. He isn't the most dynamic fighter, seemingly capable of only a forward-moving type of fight. His best defense is his offense and his chin. These are traits that Frampton could potentially exploit.
At first glance, this looks to be a tough road assignment for Frampton. And while crossing an ocean is not ideal for any fighter, Frampton should enjoy robust support from the Irish of NYC, at least a lot more than he would have received if fighting in Santa Cruz' stomping grounds of Southern California. I see Frampton giving Santa Cruz a really good fight.
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Frampton doesn't always overwhelm his opponents, nor does he always impress with his form, ability to adjust, or his overall balance. But upon closer examination, you begin to see the special element to Frampton's game. His unorthodoxy is actually an asset. His skills are unique. He throws from weird angles. Sure, his game plan often seems murky and he gets hit by the same punches over and over. He doesn't always seem adept at making adjustments. So then how did he become a unified champ at 122 pounds? How did he put himself on the precipice of becoming one of Ireland's all-time signature fighters?
At the end of the day, Frampton does one thing in the ring that is a very underrated trait—he just wins. He delivers results. And he does so with a skill-set that in many ways is off our normal grid of evaluation. I think this extra dimension that Frampton has will pay off in this spot and that the more straight-ahead style of Santa Cruz suits the Belfast native quite well. I see Frampton swashbuckling his way to a decision win. I'll take the underdog.
Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Carl Frampton at +155. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!