By Alexey Sukachev
Belfast, North Ireland ---- WBC super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz explicitly voiced his interest in fighting European and IBF I/C titleholder Carl Frampton. The Mexican is well advised to be cautious with his own wishes as he is seemingly getting what he was looking for after a huge second-round knockout, performed by Frampton to Leo's compatriot Hugo Cazares in the WBC final eliminator.
On paper, former WBO light flyweight and WBA super flyweight titlist Cazares (40-8-2, 27 KOs) looked to be Frampton's most dangerous opponent. In real life, the WBC #1 super bantamweight didn't last even five minuted against the newest Belfast hero, being totally dominated by the Jackal's fistic power.
WBC/IBF #2 and WBO #9 British boxer kicked off this fight with an aggressive outburst, promptly pinning Cazares to the ropes. A right hand was going through the Mexican's guard with visible ease, and Cazares was also a bit slow on feet. He evened the action as the round was closing by, landing a couple of body blows but it was a Frampton's
round by a huge margin.
Frampton continued to stalk Cazares in the second round, and soon found his luck - this time with a counter left bomb. Cazares was wobbled and came down on a delayed effect moments after that. What followed will be remembered quite for some time by hardcore fans as a virtual reminiscent of Dereck Chisora vs. Malik Scott fight. Cazares took a knee, didn't look shocked, winked at his cornermen at the count of seven, but just forgot to get up after the count of "nine", leaving a referee no other possibility but to wave it off immediately.
This time there was no controversy, as Cazares clearly missed a count, and has only himself to blame for this stupid mistake. Time of stoppage was 1:38 of the second round, as Frampton (18-0, 13 KOs) moves on to a long-awaited shot at world title.
A smashing right swing by Eamonn O'Kane (12-1, 4 KOs) right into Alvaro Gaona's nose ended what was very short and uneven fight between two middleweights from different leagues. Official time of stoppage was 2:42 of the very first round.
By annihilating the Mexican boxer, IBF #9 O'Kane acquired a vacant WBC Silver International middleweight title in quite telling fashion, adding it to his previously owned IBF I/C regalia. Gaona goes down to 13-4-3, with 8 KOs.
Stephen "The Rock" Ormond (17-1, 8 KOs) continued his steady growth as a lightweight contender with an impressive fifth-round stoppage of Karim El Ouazghari (16-5-2, 4 KOs) of Spain.
WBO #7 Ormond started aggressively, and it took El Ouazghari quite a time to adjust to his aggressive opponent. Yet, Ormond's activity was a bigger factor than the Spaniard's precision and finesse. The Irish fighter chose to use his trademark jumps in, while Ouazghari tried to counter him doing so.
The Spaniard did better in rounds three and four, when he targeted Ormond's body and had some mild success doing so. Ormond grew bigger at the end of the fourth. Still, the end came as a relative surprise. Ormond landed two big right hands to put El Ouazghari down. The latter showed he was ready to go on but forget to convince referee about this fact.
Ormond defended his WBO European lightweight title for the third time. Time of stoppage was 2:09 of the fifth.
Local native Marco McCullough (9-1, 6 KOs) easily dispatched late Slovakian sub Elemir Rafael (27-80-2, 5 KOs) in three horribly one-sided rounds. McCullough was all over much smaller Rafael immediately after the opening bell. He put him down during the third minute of the second with a hard right hand to the solar plexus. The end cam soon after the beginning of the third stanza, when Rafael was found defenseless on the ropes.
Official time of stoppage was 0:59. McCullough was originally slated to fight Andrey Isaev for a vacant WBO European featherweight title.
Jamie Conlan (11-0, 7 KOs), nicknamed The Mexican, showed some Latino skills against Belgian import Benjamin Smoes (9-3-1, 1 KO), repeatedly hurting him throughout the first five rounds of virtually one-sided action. Conlan dominated the fight, as Smoes had little chance opposing something serious to him.
Late into the sixth, Smoes went down on a picturesque "right hand - left hook" combo. He was then put down again in the seventh - this time to one knee and for a full count. Conlan acquired a vacant WBO European super flyweight belt in this fight.
Middleweight newbie Conrad Cummings improved to 2-0, 1 KO, with a convincing third-round stoppage of Bulgarian Zahari Mutafchiev (6-22-1, 1 KO). Cummings was in firm control of the fight from round one and was pushing Mutafchiev all around the ring up until the Bulgarian was in no position to continue midst into the third.