Santa-Cruz vs. Frampton Fight Preview

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By Seamus McNally

On July 30th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz (32–0–1, 18 KOs) and Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (22–0, 14 KOs) put their undefeated records on the line against each other in a match up of two of the best boxers in the world south of 130 lbs. The highly anticipated fight between two of the biggest stars in the lower weight divisions is being promoted by DiBella Entertainment and will be televised live Saturday night on Showtime.

Santa Cruz established himself as one of the world’s premier bantamweights by the end of 2012 before deciding to move up to 122 lbs in 2013. In his super bantamweight debut that May, Santa Cruz defeated Venezuelan Alexander Munoz by fifth-round stoppage. Santa Cruz put the rest of the division on notice a few months later in August with a statement third-round knockout win over super bantamweight contender Victor Terrazas of Mexico. Santa Cruz capped of the year with a unanimous decision victory over Cesar Seda in December.

2014 got off to a promising start for Santa Cruz, with a dominant decision win over contender Cristian Mijares in March. Santa Cruz actually called out Frampton after his win over Mijares but the fight never materialized. Santa Cruz then starting drawing the ire of fans by facing sub-par competition in his next few fights, especially with plenty of big names in his division that he could have faced, namely fellow Mexican star Abner Mares. The criticism towards Santa Cruz came to a crescendo May 2, 2015 on the Mayweather-Pacquiao under card. Santa Cruz was given a huge opportunity by being placed in the co-feature slot of the biggest fight of the 21st century. Instead of facing an elite opponent with the whole world watching, he took on former sparring partner Jose Catayeno in his first non 12-round fight in two years. Santa Cruz was not even able to get his over matched opponent out of there and had to settle for a shutout unanimous decision.

Fed up with hearing about his lackluster opposition, Santa Cruz finally gave the fans what they wanted and took on Mares in a featherweight bout August 29 on ESPN. The fight lived up to the high expectations, with Santa Cruz winning a thrilling 12-round majority decision between the two Southern California residents in front of a raucous crowd at the Staples Center in LA. The action-packed win propelled Santa Cruz back into the good graces of the fans.

Frampton has been a star in his native Northern Ireland and the surrounding countries for a number of years, routinely fighting in front of electric sold out crowds in his hometown of Belfast. But he was only introduced to the American public last July, and was surprisingly shaky in his debut in America. He was dropped twice in the first round by the unheralded Alejandro Gonzalez before recovering to win a unanimous decision.

Frampton went back across the pond for a mega fight of his own, facing Scott Quigg five months ago on February 27 in front of a frenzied atmosphere at the Manchester Arena. Frampton-Quigg was similar to Santa Cruz-Mares in that both fights were in demand by the public years before they finally took place. Unlike Santa Cruz-Mares, this fight did not live up to the high expectations. The fight turned out to be more of a tactical battle than the expected slugfest. Both fighters looked nervous under the huge spotlight and were tentative to engage. Nonetheless, Frampton got the better of his nemesis, winning a split decision to set himself up for a return to America and another major fight against an unbeaten opponent.

Santa Cruz and Frampton share a common opponent, Kiko Martinez of Spain. Both fighters were able to stop Martinez. In February 2013, Frampton won the European super bantamweight title against Martinez with a ninth-round knockout at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. They had a rematch 19 months later in September 2014, this time at a makeshift outdoor arena in Belfast to accommodate Frampton’s growing legion of fans. Frampton did not get a stoppage this time, but was able to win a near shutout unanimous decision. Santa Cruz faced Martinez in his most recent fight, which took place at the Honda Center in Anaheim on the same day as Frampton-Quigg. Santa Cruz was able to take out Martinez in the fifth round.

A fight between two elite fighters, both undefeated and in their primes is never easy to predict, and that is why fans love to watch this type of match up. They are also unlike a lot of undefeated fighters, both having already been tested in a big fight. That makes this fight even more intriguing since both have tasted success in a high pressure situation before.

Santa Cruz is a come forward, action fighter who’s punch output in the ring is only surpassed by pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez. Frampton has a more calculated style, preferring to fight at a measured pace and landing precise counter shots. Frampton will gladly exchange leather when pushed, which should make for a very exciting scrap. Santa Cruz will be the bigger man on fight night, with a 3” height advantage and 7” reach advantage over Frampton. This is also Santa Cruz’s fourth fight at featherweight, while Frampton is fighting above the super bantamweight limit of 122 lbs for the first time. Frampton will have the crowd behind him with a large contingent of Irish fans in the New York area. The fight will be a thrilling back and forth affair most of the night before Santa Cruz’s wears down the smaller man in the championship rounds by imposing his size advantage with his pressure style to eke out a close decision 115-113.

Guillermo Rigondeaux Heading to UK to Publically Confront Scott Quigg

CORK, Ireland (April 12, 2015) – Unified super bantamweight world champion Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux (15-0, 10 KOs), arguably the most avoided reigning world title holder in modern boxing history, will travel to London next month in order to publicly confront his mandatory challenger, Scott Quigg (30-0-2, 22 KOs), the World Boxing Association (WBA) “regular” 122-pound division titlist.
 
A month ago in an unusual move, Rigondeaux’ manager Gary Hyde formally petitioned the WBA to enforce a mandatory title fight between his WBA Super champion and Quigg. Hyde is awaiting the WBA’s decision. Rigondeaux is also the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and The Ring magazine’s super bantamweight champion.
 
A reigning world champion hasn’t been avoided by other world champions and top contenders like Rigondeux has for the past two years since, perhaps, junior middleweight Sergio Martinez, or possibly all the way back to middleweight Mike McCallum.
 
The top three super bantamweights in the world outside of Rigondeaux – International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Council (WBC) champions, Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz, respectively, plus Quigg – have avoided the Cuban great like the plaque. Once Santa Cruz’ promoter at the time, Oscar de la Hoya, announced that a Rigondeaux-Santa Cruz had to happen, Santa Cruz’ powerful adviser, Al Haymon, exercised a contract option and bought him out to avoid a fight with ‘Rigo.’ Frampton’s promoter, Barry McGuigan, has proclaimed his fighter, not Rigondeaux, as the No. 1 super featherweight in the world. McGuigan, though, is interested in Frampton fighting Quigg in a U.K. showdown, rather than a world mega-fight for three of the four major sanctioning world titles. As the “regular” WBA champion, Quigg is Rigondeaux’ mandatory challenger, yet, he apparently wants no part of the two-time Olympic gold medalist because his promoter, Barry Hearn, not only hasn’t pushed the issue, he’s in negotiations with McGuigan for Frampton to fight Quigg.
 
Former world super bantamweight champions Nonito Doniare, after he lost a unification fight to Rigondeaux two years ago, and Abner Mares chose to move up one division to fight as featherweights. And now Donaire reports that his manager was contacted by a Quigg representative to discuss a Donaire-Quigg fight in England.
 
Another two-time Olympic gold medalist, WBO 126-pound champion Vasyl Lomachenko, continually insists that “Rigo” has to move up in weight for a fight to happen despite him having no problems making 126.
 
“Quigg, Santa Cruz and Frampton have showed no desire to challenge Rigondeaux,” Hyde said. “These three fighters are trying to fool the public into believing that fight the No. 1 guy in the world is not important. While they are lining their pockets with ridiculous amounts of cash for fighting below par opponents, Rigondeaux is forced to wait around until some Asian opponent steps up. This is a sport in which we are accustomed to seeing the best fighting the best but, in the super bantamweight division, it’s the best versus the rest.
 
“Rigondeaux will travel to Manchester to fight Quigg, Belfast to fight Frampton, or Las Vegas to fight Santa Cruz. None of these so-called world champions, though, will consider fighting the acknowledged world super bantamweight champion. They’re all much more content to hold onto their belts than beating The Man in their weight class.”
 
Next month, Hyde reports, Rigondeaux will travel to the United Kingdom in a bold attempt to embarrass Quigg into fighting him. “I don’t like traveling overseas unless I have a fight lined up,” Rigondeaux explained, “but I will travel to England in May to publicly call out Scott Quigg. If he turns down the chance to fight our WBA mandatory, he will be remembered for that instead of being known as a great fighter. While I’m in the UK, I will also go to Belfast to checkout Carl Frampton to ask if he wants to prove himself against the best in his division.”
 
Understanding that the top super bantamweight action is currently in Europe, noting a record purse ($2.2 million USD) offered for a Frampton vs. Quigg fight, Rigondeaux is considering a major change in the not too distant future, moving his base from Miami to the UK, if that’s what it takes for him to get in on the action.
 
Hyde also manages former WBO middleweight champion and current International Boxing Federation (IBF) No. 1 mandatory contender Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (31-1, 18 KOs), former WBA Interim cruiserweight champion Youri “El Toro” Kalenga (21-2, 14 KOs) and Georgian super lightweight Levan “The Wolf” Ghvamichava (14-1-1, 11 KOs) , as well as top prospects such as Cuban super bantamweight Marcos Forestal (2-0, 2 KOs), Irish heavyweight Con Sheehan and Bulgarian light heavyweight Blagoy Naydenov.

Guillermo Rigondeaux Encouraged by Oscar de la Hoya on Leo Santa Cruz Unification Bout

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MIAMI (Jan. 28, 2015) – World Boxing Association (WBA) Super, World Boxing Organization (WBO) and The Ring Magazine super bantamweight champion Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux (15-0, 10 KOs) is encouraged by reports that World Boxing Council (WBC) title-holder Leo Santa Cruz’ promoter, Oscar de la Hoya, believes a Rigondeaux-Santa Cruz unification fight has to happen.
 
The 34-year-old Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been restricted to Asia for his last two fights, subsequently in low-profile matches, due to the lack of desire by any world-class super bantamweight to challenge the Cuban star.
 
Rigondeaux stopped WBO No. 6 rated challenger Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19 KOs) after 11 rounds in Osaka, Japan this past New Year’s Eve. Last July, “Rigo” knocked out Sod Kokietgym (62-2-1) in the opening round of their fight in Macao, China.
 
“It’s good to know that Santa Cruz’ promoter has stated that our unification fight has to happen,” an ecstatic Rigondeaux said. “I want to add his (WBC) green belt to my WBA and WBO championship collection. I’ve wanted this fight for some time. Let’s hope this is not just idle talk. Let’s do it!”
 
Rigondeaux vs. Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs) would be a classic showdown between ethnic boxing arch-rivals, respectively, Cuban and Mexican fighters who now live in Miami and southern California.
 
“I have contacted Golden Boy Promotions many times to ask about making a fight between ‘Rigo’ and Santa Cruz,” Rigondeaux’ manager Gary Hyde added. “They always answered by saying they were interested in making this fight but not at that time. Yesterday, after learning Oscar said this fight has to happen, I reached out to Golden Boy and can confirm that negotiations have commenced. Myself and Caribe Promotions, ‘Rigo’s’ promoter, will endeavor to make this fight happen as soon as possible.
 
“Once ‘Rigo’ beats Santa Cruz for his third world title belt – fourth if you count The Ring Magazine – a fight against International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Carl Frampton (19-0, 13 KOs) would have to happen in order to determine the undisputed super bantamweight champion of the world.”