Frampton v Santa Cruz II – Irish Media Predictions

Irish boxing writers have unanimously called the correct result for Carl Frampton’s last two fights and, as we approach the Leo Santa Cruz rematch, we see if we can go there from three.

Again, we are all picking ‘The Jackal’ to prevail at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Check out the 10 predictions below:

Kevin Byrne – The Irish Sun
Frampton manages to put Santa Cruz down but not out as he takes a clearer points decision.

Nicky Fullerton – The Belfast Newsletter
I think Frampton will stop Santa Cruz around rounds 10 or 11. Can’t see Santa Cruz winning this one – he is a very good fighter – but I think Frampton has the edge. Also think Frampton will hit and move and won’t get dragged into a war like he did that night in New York. Will be a great fight while it lasts but think Frampton stops him late on.

Ciarán Gallagher – Freelane
I see the fight being very similar to their first bout. Although Frampton has the power to hurt Santa Cruz – as evidenced in the second round of last July’s fight when he staggered the Mexican with a short left hook – I don’t expect the Belfast man to chase a knockout.

Shane McGuigan’s advice in the corner midway through that bout at the Barclays Center was to “keep changing rhythm, step back but you aren’t throwing, step back [and throw]” and I anticipate Frampton to adopt such a counter-punching gameplan in Las Vegas, while reminding his opponent that he has heavier hands.

Frampton may have talked up his ability to knock out Santa Cruz in the rematch, but I expect a clinical and composed performance in the same manner as his rematch win over Kiko Martinez.

Santa Cruz is likely to again win his fair share of rounds due to his usual high work-rate, but I don’t see him doing enough to regain his old title – although the Mexican’s busy approach and determination is sure to make for another close fight.

Frampton to win by (a tight) unanimous decision.

David Mohan – Belfast Media Group
Rematches are generally about who can make the better adjustments and given how ‘The Jackal’ seems to have more in his locker, it’s hard to see him coming up up short on Saturday.

In the first fight, Frampton went in as a slight underdog with many questions hanging over him with it being his first foray into the featherweight division, but looked like a new man with his power – as evidenced by his left that had Santa Cruz staggering back onto the ropes in the second – making a dent at the higher weight too.

Santa Cruz hardly had the ideal preparation with his father and head trainer, Jose’s cancer diagnosis, but any suggestion that he was under-prepared can be taken with a pinch of salt. 1002 punches thrown is hardly the mark of a man who hadn’t trained properly.

I do expect Santa Cruz to start quicker this time and try and box from the outside more to get a lead, but natural instinct will take over sooner rather than later and he will be looking to trade. That will play into Frampton’s hands as he is the bigger puncher and has the better boxing IQ to force Santa Cruz to lunge in and counter. His uppercut could prove a big weapon as it did at times in their New York.

Santa Cruz is going into his first rematch while Frampton has been here before when he convincingly defeated Kiko Martinez to take the IBF super-bantamweight having perhaps mixed it with the Spaniard a little too much in their first fight.

Santa Cruz will improve from his defeat the last day, but so too will Frampton and I can see the Belfast man retaining his title, most likely on the cards but perhaps even with a stoppage in the latter rounds should he catch ‘El Terremoto’ clean. Let’s just hope there is no controversy.

Steve Wellings – Boxing News, The Boxing Asylum
I reckon it’ll be as close as the first fight (not that the judges had it close, mind you) and hopefully with the same result. The fact it’s on the West Coast and closer to LSC territory does slightly concern me but I’m sure both will get a fair shake.

Frampton can clearly hurt Leo but Leo has scope to improve. Throwing over 1,000 punches is impressive but he needs more quality over quantity. I don’t see a stoppage or a significantly easier fight, second time round.

Verdict: Carl by split decision.

Leonard Gunning – The Irish Post
Both Santa Cruz and Frampton will go into the rematch with increased confidence. After twelve rounds they will both feel they have worked the other out and can make those minor adjustments needed to gain the win in this highly anticipated rematch.

Santa Cruz’s attempts to use conflicting instructions from his brother and father comes across as weak gameplaying. His quantity over quality approach was his real downfall. A cute savvy box-puncher like Frampton will always eat up that pressure on the counter.

After a less than explosive first half I expect Frampton to have amassed a sufficient lead to carry him over the line for a second points victory.

Paul Gibson – The Balls of Wrath
I see it pretty similar to the first one, and that is certainly no bad thing.

Santa Cruz and his team are no mugs, so you’d have to presume they’ll have studied the first fight and will have something extra up their sleeves this time. They’ll surely have considered adapting Leo’s mile-a-minute style ever so slightly to try and take advantage of his height and massive reach advantage. It is also possible that Leo is in a better place mentally right now than he was last year when his father’s health was a major concern.

But I believe Frampton is good enough to deal with any improvements Santa Cruz can make. Carl wasn’t perfect first time either so he has room to make it an easier night this time around if he fights his own fight for 36 minutes. Plus he’ll be brimming with confidence after the stellar 12 months he has just had. I know Carl thinks he might stop Leo in this one, and that wouldn’t surprise me in rounds 10-12 if he stays in the pocket a split-second longer than necessary, but the smart money is probably on another close, but decisive, UD for the Jackal.

Gav Casey –
I feel particularly uneasy amidst the atypical collective confidence from our side on this occasion, particularly with premature chatter of a unification fight with Selby. Sporting assurance and Irishness are, within a historical context, a perilous concoction; an outdated mindset, perhaps, but we’ve been stung before.

Having rewatched the original classic, however, I’m edging towards Frampton once more, with a smidgen more certainty than I did last July. As accomplished a performance as ‘The Jackal’ produced in Brooklyn, I still feel he could have made his job slightly easier against what I maintain was peak Leo Santa Cruz.

Much of his trouble arrived at the tail-end of exchanges, with the rangier Mexican landing a number of left paws as Frampton stepped backwards in straight lines. Angles and lateral movement will doubtless have been the theme of many a training session with Shane McGuigan. Ultimately – considering Frampton’s ring intellect and adaptability – I can see the champ being more assured in his movement this time out, stepping out of danger more often and, in turn, finding himself primed to counter the slightly less mobile Santa Cruz from 90-degree angles.

With 5,000 feverish fans behind him (Good call with Vegas, Leo), I think Frampton’s cleaner work will get him over the line by two to three rounds on at least two scorecards.

Jonny Stapleton –
When both predicting and calling big fights involving Irish fighters you can often find yourself over compensating for bias. Your desire for a home result and your connection, no matter how small, to the Irish fighter in the big battle makes you doubt your confidence, question whether or not you have rose tinted glasses on and so fort.

However, when I personally break down this fight, which I admit I don’t do with any degree of expertise behind me, I can’t see anything but a Frampton win.

It’s all been said before! The mould is rigidly set when it comes to Leo Santa Cruz, he can’t break it. He is a great pressure fighter, a volume puncher from mid range, and a good fighter up close. I presume that was the style he adopted in his first ever spar and the one he used in his last spar last week. Take into account the ring intelligence of Frampton and it’s a style he is ready for and has the footwork to overcome.

I think this clash will be more like the first five to six rounds of the first fight than the second half. This isn’t based on any information of fact, but I think the fact the Gonzalez Jr fight wasn’t entertaining and was criticised by American press played a part in Frampton standing and trading in New York in the Summer. I think Frampton wanted to impress, wanted to be in an entertaining fight, wanted to win fans, and that played a part. That pressure is gone now and I think his head will rule for the most part this time round.

He is also more familiar with the weight, knows he can hurt his opponent and has proven – by how he dealt with a fitter, more focused, in form Kiko Martinez when they rematched – that he can work and figure out an opponent.

I do worry with all the Morales-Barrera talk and the constant attempts of American media to build this ‘big rivalry’. That talk of three and even fight fights scares me. No doubt the TV Network and neutral promoter involved would love a draw or a Santa Cruz win so they could do it all again! Hopefully Carl produces a performances that makes sure a third fight doesn’t make sense.

I think Santa Cruz is planning a body attack and wonder if team Frampton’s talk of neck issues is to try and get the Mexican to head hunt. However as Joe informs me that a taller man going to the body leaves him open to big counters and with that knowledge in hand I’m backing Frampton to at very least score a knock down and win by at least four rounds.

Joe O’Neill –
My main worry going in to this bout, apart from the collective confidence of everyone in the Irish boxing family, is the training camp of Santa Cruz.

One can take comfort from Frampton’s ability to learn from his mistakes, his further development into the featherweight class, and the reassurance of already having done the business once before. However my mind keeps being drawn back to the Carl Froch v George Groves rematch. ‘The Cobra’ claimed in the build up that he had underestimated Frampton’s current gym-mate ahead of the first bout, that this translated into his preparations and training for the initial match-up, and that the same would not happen again. Froch indeed looked much better that night at Wembley Stadium despite his advancing years and scored perhaps a career-defining win.

So the question is: How adversely affected were Santa Cruz’s preparations for the fight in New York? The lack of his cancer-stricken (but now thankfully fully recovered) father for a portion of the camp may have proved distraction and disruption, as Santa Cruz has repeatedly noted. This however could be a shakey claim from ‘The Earthquake.’ It certainly seemed like the same old Leo at the Barclays Centre.

Santa Cruz’s talk of using his range is an interesting one. It may well be a smokescreen and, if indeed it is his plan, it should provide Frampton with the opportunity to bank rounds and build up a lead.

What also worries me is a sense of ‘narrative’ creeping in. The frequent Barrera-Morale mentions, Santa Cruz’s talk of a trilogy, and the need for boxing as a sport in general to have these sorts of rivalries. By no way am I implying that something untoward may happen with the scoring, more that this sort of narrative may naturally find it’s way into the heads of the men at ringside. With that in mind, I think 20/1 for the draw is a very good price.

However, I do believe that Frampton is the superior boxer, that he has learnt from the first bout, and that he will more effectively deal with the pressure brought by Santa Cruz in the later half of the fight for a clear points win.

It may not hit the heights of the first battle, but it will still be fun and the 5,000 members of ‘The Jackal Army’ will fly home happy.

Frampton on points

Kane Clarke –
Six months down the line from the first epic battle, we find ourselves having to go through the same thought process that brought the Irish boxing media so much criticism in July from our counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean. Of course when two high profile pugilists enter the ring, there will be split opinions and disagreements on the outcome of the bout, but ‘we’ were fully aware of just how good ‘El Terremoto’ is, and how much of a struggle it would be for ‘The Jackal’.

Things are a little bit different this time around as now we have actually seen the fight, and seen how ‘our’ predictions were pretty close to being spot on. Many predicted Frampton would win on points in a tightly contested battle, while most of the Americans had their man winning pretty comfortably and didn’t give the Tigers Bay man much of a chance.

Now, while last time out our American friends were left with huge amounts of egg all over their face, this time I presume they will be a little more thoughtful and respectful of ‘our Carl’s’ chances, having seen first hand what the Belfast man is capable of.

For myself, I cant really see the fight playing out much different that the first. Santa Cruz did exactly what we expected during the first bout, he came forward, without a reverse gear, throwing over 100 punches a round, and it was up to Carl to stop him in his tracks with sheer power, while using his excellent ringcraft to manoeuvre himself out of trouble and create angles to counter his Mexican-American dance partner. Can Santa Cruz adjust? I really don’t think so. The only thing that he could maybe do would be to throw less punches, and put a bit more thought into his work, using his natural advantages rather than throwing hell for leather, because that clearly wont work against ‘The Jackal’ who has shown in many previous fights that he is just as strong on the back foot as he is on the front and can adjust whatever the situation.

With rumours of Frampton knocking out sparring partners ‘cold’ circulating, the only difference that I wouldn’t be surprised in would be the stoppage for ‘The Jackal’ but there’s no doubt that would be a huge ask. I’ll stay safe and stick with Carl to win on points, but for this one to be slightly clearer.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: