Ringside at the MGM Grand: Santa Cruz Recaptures his 126-Pound Title

FRAMPTON-SANTA CRUZ II — Leo Santa Cruz recaptured his WBA Super World Featherweight title with a hard fought majority decision over Carl Frampton before an announced crowd of 10,085 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 28. Santa Cruz prevailed by scores of 115-113, 115-113, and 114-114.

There were a lot of parallels between this match and the first meeting on July 30 in Brooklyn. In that affair, Santa Cruz lost his title and his undefeated record by a majority decision. On Saturday he took back the title while saddling Frampton (now 23-1) with his first professional loss.

Heading into the fight, Santa Cruz (33-1-1) promised to fight a smarter fight than he did in the first engagement. By that he meant that he would brawl less and box more, lengthening the trajectory of punches to take advantage of his superior reach. He held tight to the script and it paid dividends.

The first fight was a robust affair and this fight measured up to that standard. There were a number of furious exchanges, notably in rounds 1, 3, 5, and 9. Santa Cruz scored an apparent knockdown with seconds remaining in the fourth round, but referee Kenny Bayless ruled it a slip.

The punch tally was consistent with the outcome. Santa Cruz, the busier fighter, was credited with landing 230 punches compared with 133 for Frampton. Santa Cruz also had the edge in power punches landed — 149 to 105 – although Frampton’s power punches landed harder.

Although the bout wasn’t a sellout, the ambience was outstanding. Periodically the boisterous Irish contingent erupted into song (“Walking Along, Singing a Song, Walking in a Frampton Wonderland”). The beer flowed freely on Saturday at the MGM, but if there was any hooliganism, it escaped this reporter’s eyes.

ZLATICANIN-GARCIA

In the co-feature, Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) grabbed the WBC world lightweight title with a brutal third round knockout of defending champion Dejan Zlaticanin. Walking into the ring, Garcia had a relaxed, casual air, a sign that he was overflowing with confidence. In the third round, he knocked Zlaticanin cold with a three-punch combination. The first punch, an uppercut, knocked Zlaticanin sideways. He was wide open when Garcia delivered the coup de gras, a crushing right hand. Referee Tony Weeks didn’t bother to count. Zlaticanin, the first fighter from Montenegro to win a world title, lay motionless on the canvas for several minutes before he was revived.

OTHER BOUTS

In an 8-round welterweight match, Ivan Redkach, an LA-based Ukrainian, advanced to 20-2-1 with an eighth round stoppage of 35-year-old Demond Brock (13-4-1), a Roy Jones Jr. protégé. This was nice win for Redkach who began his pro career 18-0 before running into some potholes.

In an 8-round super middleweight contest, David Benavidez, the younger brother of undefeated welterweight contender Jose Benavidez, needed less than two rounds to dispose of Sherali Mamadjonov, an Uzbek making his U.S. debut. The 20-year old Benavidez (17-0, 16 KOs), from Phoenix, turned pro at age 16 in Mexico. Based on tonight’s performance, he looks like he will be a force in the 168-pound division, although at 6’2” he may eventually settle in as a cruiserweight.

In an 8-round super lightweight bout, Josh Taylor (8-0, 7 KOs) was extended the distance for the first time in his young career while earning a hard-fought but unanimous decision over Alfonso Olvera. Taylor, a 2012 Olympian from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a stablemate of Carl Frampton. Olvera (8-3-1) is better than his record. Each of his losses came at the hands of undefeated fighters who came in highly touted – Ivan Baranchyk, Ryan Karl, and now Taylor.

MORE

6 Rounds Welterweights: Herbert Acevedo UD Chris Singleton

6 Rounds Featherweights: Leduan Barthelemy UD Jesus Aguinaga

4 Rounds Bantamweights: Antonio Santa Cruz UD Victor Torres

4 Rounds Featherweights: Jerry Perez TKO 1 Javier Cepeda

Photo credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

COMMENTS

-Kid Blast :

What an incredible night of boxing. Each of the main fights on the separate networks was a great one. Garcia's KO was scary. This bout was compelling. And the stuff on HBO was savage and bloody. This night was a boxing fan's dream. I was going back and forth with the clicker so that I could see everything. Just a great, great night and one that could provide a FOTY and KO of the year. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


-the Roast :

Santa Cruz won the fight comfortably. The rounds were close but Leo won most of them. I thought the judges scores were too close. Frampton fought well. I'd love to see a third fight, in Belfast as suggested by Frampton would be electric. That was a spectacular KO by Garcia. I was happy when the guy came to. He hit the mat very hard. I switched on the dvr and watched the HBO card after the Showtime. Those fights were good too. A quality night on the couch with four good fights.


-Kid Blast :

Re the other fight, there are some boxers today who are as skilled as anyone who ever fought.. Mikey Garcia is such a special fighter. Not just because of his power, which is special also, but because of how he controls the distance, pace, location, and tempo of his fights


-oubobcat :

Santa Cruz won the fight comfortably. The rounds were close but Leo won most of them. I thought the judges scores were too close. Frampton fought well. I'd love to see a third fight, in Belfast as suggested by Frampton would be electric. That was a spectacular KO by Garcia. I was happy when the guy came to. He hit the mat very hard. I switched on the dvr and watched the HBO card after the Showtime. Those fights were good too. A quality night on the couch with four good fights.
It was definitely a great night of boxing. I do think the scores were too close and myself had Santa Cruz winning 117-111. I thought Santa Cruz defeated Frampton more convincingly here than Frampton did Santa Cruz in the first fight. And yes lets see this become a trilogy with the third fight happening in Belfast. What an atmosphere that would be.


-Kid Blast :

Wembley for me. After all, Belfast is in the UK. However, a fight in Northern Ireland would truly be a monster. My God, it would be memorable. And it could be billed as "Redemption in Belfast."