Santa Cruz vs. Frampton tonight
(Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME) By Scott Gilfoid: The shorter Carl Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) will be taking a step up in class tonight to challenger WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs) for his belt at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Frampton feels that he’s got what it takes to not only beat the taller 5’8” Santa Cruz, but also the other featherweights in the division. That’s obviously hard to buy into when you take a glance at how Frampton struggled in his last two fights against Scott Quigg and Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.
The only reason Frampton didn’t lose to Quigg was because he didn’t start fighting hard until the 7th round. By that point, the best that Quigg could hope for was a draw, which I thought he deserved. Frampton really collapsed big time in the second half of the fight under the pressure that Quigg put on him.
Frampton is quick to blame his fading on his struggles to make the 122lb weight limit for the fight, but I don’t buy into that excuse. I just think that Frampton didn’t have size, power or the chin to stand up to the heavy shots that Quigg was hitting him with in the second half of the fight. Frampton was on a full scale retreat from round seven until the twelfth and it was hard to watch because he looked like he was in the full panic mode.
“I’m looking forward to the fight. We’ve got a game plan, we’re not going to give it away but we’ll do whatever it takes to get the win,” said Frampton via skysports.com. “I know I can deal with these guys at featherweight – I can beat any of them. When I hit them hard on the chin, it could be game over,” said Frampton.
Oh boy, it sounds like Frampton really has a good pipe dream. If he truly thinks he can beat any of the featherweights, then why didn’t he look to fight IBF champion Lee Selby right out of the blocks? I think Selby would be a nightmare for Frampton. I can’t see Frampton beating WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. or WBO champion Oscar Valdez.
I think Santa Cruz is the most vulnerable of the 126lb belt holders, and that’s only because he’s not a true featherweight. He’s someone that moved up to the weight class after holding titles at bantamweight and super bantamweight in the past.
“I wanted a big name. I wanted a guy like Santa Cruz because I want to prove myself,” Frampton said. “I’m a natural featherweight. I grew out of super bantamweight a year-and-a-half ago. I was making it because I was the champion but I was killing myself trying to make the weight.”
Frampton might have grown out of the super bantamweight division, but he sure as heck isn’t a natural featherweight in terms of frame. I see Frampton as a pumped up super bantamweight, who still is more of a 122lb fighter than a true featherweight. Just because Frampton put weight on doesn’t mean he’s a natural featherweight. To me, a natural featherweight are guys like Nicholas Walters, Oscar Valdez and Russell Jr. Walters recently moved up in weight to super featherweight otherwise, I don’t think Santa Cruz would be a champion right now, because I think Walters would have beaten him if they had faced each other for the WBA strap.
Frampton may not realize yet that he doesn’t belong in the featherweight division, but I think he’ll soon come to terms with that reality after he loses to Santa Cruz tonight. I’m just saying. If Frampton is stubborn and decides to persist in his belief that he’s a true featherweight after tonight, then I see him taking more losses when he faces the quality guys in the division.
Eventually, I see Frampton realizing that he needs to move back down to super featherweight so that he can try and compete for a strap. Heck, even in the 122lb division right now, Frampton would be stuck as a mere contender now, because Guillermo Rigondeaux now holds the WBA belt, Jonathan Guzman is the IBF champion, and Nonito Donaire the WBO champion. I can’t see Frampton beating those guys.
“This is the easiest I have made the weight in five or six years. This is the best I have ever felt and I am coming home with the title,” said Frampton.
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