Carl FramptonLast July 30th, Ireland’s Carl Frampton went to Brooklyn, New York to face Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA’s world featherweight title. Santa Cruz was undefeated at 32-0-1, and he was favored heading into what was his second title defense. For 12 rounds both men dueled, with Frampton having many of the better moments during the fight’s tense exchanges. In the end, the judges agreed, but it was close, as Frampton won the match and the belt by a majority decision. The rematch between the two was announced shortly afterwards, and both men have been focused on this Saturday’s meeting ever since then. There was talk of Frampton fighting in between the two bouts at home in Ireland, but Santa Cruz had a strong rematch clause, and Frampton elected to focus on this fight instead. For this return bout, it will be Frampton who enters fight week favored. The first meeting between the two men resulted in a “Fight of the Year” candidate. In that meeting, it was Frampton who showed the greater capability to make adjustments. Santa Cruz stayed aggressive throughout the fight, but Frampton was able to counter-punch effectively. Santa Cruz didn’t change his game plan throughout the fight, and Frampton did enough to convince two of the judges. Frampton also appeared to land the heavier punches in the exchanges, and he showed good conditioning though moving up a weight class. The pair already fought a terrific fight once, and the two are evenly matched fighters, so people are already talking about a “trilogy.” A third match between the two, especially if the match went down in Frampton’s native Ireland, would be a big box office attraction, but for that to reasonably happen, Santa Cruz would obviously have to win the rematch. Frampton appear to be in the driver’s seat, as a second win over Santa Cruz would set him on the path for a title unification bout with England’s Lee Selby, who owns the IBF’s world featherweight title. MGM Grand – Las Vegas, Nevada – Showtime Featherweight – 12 rounds Leo Santa Cruz +140 o10½ -250 Carl Frampton -160 u10½ +210 Before that title bout, another pair of world championship fights sit in the co-feature spots at the MGM Grand. WBC world lightweight champion Dejan Zlaticanin makes his first title defense against the undefeated, all-world Mikey Garcia, and the champ will enter the fight as an underdog. Garcia took more than two years off before returning in 2016, but he is a perfect 34-0, and he is still just 28 years old. From a boxing family, Garcia is one of the finest technical boxers out there today. As for Zlaticanin, he is a big puncher who has some good names on his resume, but his world title win over Franklin Mamani saw him facing an opponent who was definitely not world class. He will not find a shortage of talent on the other side of the ring this time around. England’s IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby is also on the card, and he is a heavy favorite to defend his title against Argentina’s Johnathan Victor Barros. Selby versus Frampton to unify belts is being set up for later this year assuming both win. Lightweight – 12 rounds Dejan Zlaticanin +178 Mikey Garcia -215 Featherweight – 12 rounds Jonathan Victor Barros +1100 Lee Selby -1700


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