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Santa Cruz vs. Frampton: Carl expects to hit harder

Carl Frampton Leo Santa Cruz

By Scott Gilfoid: Carl Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) expects to be a more dangerous fighter than he’s ever been before when he moves up in weight this Saturday night to challenge WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs) for his title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Frampton, 29, is moving up in weight four pounds from the 122lb division where he abandoned his IBF/WBA titles. Frampton wants to beat Santa Cruz, and then face Gary Russell Jr. and Lee Selby in unification matches. Frampton hasn’t said anything about wanting to fight newly crowned WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez yet, but that might be a step too far for him.

Frampton figures that he’ll be able to punch harder at featherweight than he did at super bantamweight. I’m not sure that he will. But even if Frampton does hit harder, the guys he’s facing is a harder puncher than the guys he’s been fighting at 122, and he’ll need to deal with the huge power shots he’s going to be getting hit with in this fight.

“I know those who maybe don’t have a deep knowledge of boxing would think that four pounds wouldn’t make that much of a difference but believe me it does,” said Frampton to the Belfast Telegraph. “I’m a more dangerous fighter now than I’ve ever been. To be honest I think I had outgrown the super-bantamweight division about 18 months ago but I was world champion and I kept making the weight and got the job done. I was beating world class fighters at 80 per cent but now I’m at 100 per cent and I’m punching harder than ever and keeping up an even higher workrate.”

We’ll see how much more dangerous Frampton is on Saturday night, because he’s not going to be able to run from Santa Cruz, because the American fighter cuts off the ring so well. The way that Scott Quigg cut off the ring on Frampton in the second half of their fight last February will be exactly how Santa Cruz does it. Santa Cruz has a big advantage in this fight because he’s had a lot of time to prepare for the movement that Frampton will be using because he’s studied his fight against Quigg backwards and forwards.

If Frampton is going to throw Santa Cruz a curveball on Saturday night, then he’s going to need to do something that he least suspects for him to do. The only thing I can think of that Santa Cruz won’t be expecting from Frampton is for him to stand and punch with him. If Frampton chooses to punch with Santa Cruz, then this fight could end early on Saturday night because I don’t think Frampton has a sturdy enough chin to hold up under the withering storm of shots he’s going to be getting hit with. Frampton does not react well when getting hit, so I think he’s going to get on his bike and start running once he gets nailed one time too many.

“The extra four pounds means that I am that little bit more comfortable in training and I’ve been absolutely flying in sparring,” said Frampton. “Anybody who watched my recent sparring over here would have been very impressed.”

This is what I was afraid of. Frampton has put on some weight in moving up to 122, and it’s gone to his head. He now believes he’s going to go in there and punch with more power against Santa Cruz. This can only lead to bad things for Frampton. I’m just saying. Don’t’ say I didn’t warn Frampton ahead of time that he’s blowing it by thinking he’s a slugger now. It doesn’t how much weight Frampton put on for this or any fight, he’s not going to be big enough to punch the lights out of guys that have a good chin.

What’s even worse though is that Frampton doesn’t seem to realize that he’s going to be getting hit harder in this fight than he’s been hit in the past, and that he’s going to be getting hit a lot more due to the size and the long reach advantage that Santa Cruz has in this fight. He’s three inches taller than Frampton and he’s got a very high work rate. Santa Cruz’s jab is one of his best weapons, and he likes to use it a lot. We saw how Santa Cruz jabbed Abner Mares frequently in their fight last year.

Frampton looked like he gassed out in his last fight against Quigg in the second half of the bout. I thought Frampton fought well in the first six rounds, but he struggled with the pressure in the last half. You have to give Quigg a lot of credit for Frampton gassing out, because he put a TON of pressure on him. That was impressive the way that Quigg was able to apply pressure despite the fact that he was fighting with a broken jaw from round four. It had to have been hard on him to fight with his jaw in that condition; not to mention it being dangerous for him. Fighting with a broken jaw is very dangerous, and I’m surprised Quigg’s corner didn’t stop the contest to save him from being potentially injured badly.

For the sake of argument let’s assume that Frampton does have better punching power in this fight than he’s had before. He’s going to need to be able to use that power for the full 12 rounds for him to beat Santa Cruz, because he’s going to be getting pressured nonstop. That brings into another question of whether or not the added weight that Frampton has put on will slow him down in the later rounds. When fighters get heavier, they tend to fade sooner. We saw Frampton gas out at 122. It stands to reason that if Frampton faded at super bantamweight with the weight he was carrying around, then he could do the same thing at featherweight with him now carrying around an extra four pounds.

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