Carl Frampton celebrates Santa Cruz win ()Carl Frampton celebrates Santa Cruz win () © Copyright

Frampton vs Santa Cruz II: Five to watch

Action, strong confidence from both sides, and a huge fan following are some of the things to look out for in this weekend's rematch between Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz – a fight that boxing fans are hoping is as electric as the last.

Frampton (23-0-KO14) and Santa Cruz (32-1-1-KO18) are going head-to-head once again on January 28, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, with the Northern Irishman looking to defend his WBA featherweight championship he ripped from the American, last July.

In their first meeting at the famed Madison Square Garden, New York, an unbeaten Santa Cruz was the pressure fighter, attempting to defend his title – and 0 – against Frampton, but ultimately failed, after the Belfast boxer put in a career-defining performance, dominating the fight before winning by way of a majority decision.

A repeat victory for Frampton could lead to a unification clash with Lee Selby, who is also fighting on the Las Vegas card on January 28. Will it be a second time lucky for Santa Cruz, or will the fired-up Ring Magazine, ESPN and FS fighter-of-the-year cement his position as one of the world's pound-for-pound best?

Carl Frampton celebrates Santa Cruz win ()


Here are five things to watch out for in the rematch:


If it's anything like the last fight, fans will not be disappointed. With an unbeaten Frampton determined to prove his win was “no fluke” and Santa Cruz desperate to win back the title, this clash looks to be even more explosive than the last.

As both boxers’ styles meshed so well the first time around, adjustments made by each fighters in their respective camps will only serve to throw up a few surprises this time around – or will it? Frampton has stated even if Santa Cruz has changed things up, he'll still be prepared. What's guaranteed is both men will not go out meekly…

Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz ()



A few noted the absence of the two-weight world champion’s left hook in the duo's first fight, but Frampton has reassured his fans that he has honed his skills ready for the rematch, aiming for a cleaner fight. In doing so, he believes that knockout punch that eluded him in the first fight will certainly be in his arsenal.

Conversely, if Santa Cruz can make his aggressive come-forward style and excellent punch selection work for him in the rematch, there's a likelihood Frampton could touch the canvas again for the third time in his career.

A knockout would not come as a surprise to either man; they share 32 KOs between them in 56 fights.

Carl Frampton fights Leo Santa Cruz (Getty)



Despite the first fight being the biggest in both men's careers (For Frampton, it edged his bout with Scott Quigg in February 2016 in terms of prestige), neither man pulled his punches. It was a hectic 12 rounds of scrappy, breath-taking brilliance, and they've promised it will be more of the same in part two.

Frampton appears even more confident off the back of his victory at the Barclay’s Center, NY, and appears more powerful at the new 126lb weight that he came up to. He was the first man to beat Santa Cruz, already a three-weight world champion, and on paper, the booky's favourite to edge it. Frampton previously held the IBF and WBA Super Bantamweight titles before moving up a weight class to take on Leo Santa Cruz who was the incumbent WBA featherweight champ, last July. This time the Tiger's Bay man wants to win "convincingly", after some doubted the validity of his first win, as the judges' scoring was so erratic.

Santa Cruz is also said to be in a much better headspace in the build up to the second fight. The uncertainty over his father’s health and absence from training camp last year was said to have affected his mental state before the first fight, but now with his father in better health, Santa Cruz will be focused to come back better and stronger after his first career defeat in New York.

Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz ()



Santa Cruz has both the reach and height advantage but this did not appear to faze Frampton, who showed good bodywork and technical ability to boot – a welcome sight after his fight with Quigg, which seemed to be a tad lacklustre. ‘The Jackal’ said himself he has come a long way in the last six months and feels able to deal with anything Santa Cruz will bring to the ring on January 28.

In New York, the unbeaten boxer, got drawn into Santa Cruz’s fight style, but this time around he is determined not to be bullied. The Belfast boxer believes Santa Cruz is making a “big mistake jumping right back in”. According to CompuBox Stats, Frampton had a higher accuracy rate in the first fight, despite both fighters landing a near-equal amount of punches. Frampton landed 242 of 688 (36%) compared to Santa Cruz’s 255 out of 1002 (25%).

Santa Cruz will have been working hard on his technical skills, too, learning that “every little mistake mattered” in the previous fight. He has now promised to win back the WBA title that Frampton seized from him.

Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz ()



Carl Frampton, the first Northern Irish fighter to win world titles at two weights, has said he will bring 4,000 fans to Vegas to back him, a feat of loyalty not seen since Ricky Hatton's hay-day. Named as Ring Magazine’s ‘Fighter of the Year’, the unbeaten fighter is gaining more and more popularity in both the UK and overseas after his victory last July. He is also highly rated in online polls as the favourite to win in the rematch with Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz, who is a lot closer to home, is also guaranteed a huge support from the local Hispanic and Mexi-Cali community that has backed him throughout his career.

Words: Charli Prior, @charlottelily89


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