Leo Santa Cruz regains the WBA featherweight title by exploiting his reach advantage through his underrated jab, which was thrown 34.8 times per round and averaged 6.8 connects. This allowed Santa Cruz to command range and, ultimately, the fight.
Santa Cruz was also a bit more selective with his punches, though he still averaged 73.7 punches per round to Carl Frampton's 49.3, but that selectivity enhanced his accuracy in all categories, allowing him to win a majority decision that should have been unanimous given he landed 97 more punches overall, 53 more jabs and 44 more power shots. Frampton landed 242 punches in their first fight. Scoring: 114-114, 115-113 twice.
Leo Santa Cruz reclaimed the WBA Featherweight Championship, executing a brilliant game plan to dethrone Carl Frampton in a rematch of their epic first fight in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Saturday in front of 10,085 raucous fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
With the scores 114-114 draw, and 115-113 twice, both fighters now own a majority decision and promised to settle the score in a trilogy.
The fight picked up where the champions left off last July in Brooklyn with tremendous action and back and forth exchanges, but it became immediately evident that Santa Cruz had adjusted his game plan. The three-division world titlist worked off the jab, fought with patience at range and picked his spots perfectly. The brawler out-boxed the boxer.
Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) was more aggressive in the second half of the fight and attacked on the inside, but his aggression opened him up to effective counter shots from Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs).
Santa Cruz, who has made a living with trademark aggression and high volume output, was clearly more patient in the second fight. He threw 884 punches, well below his division-leading average, including over 400 jabs. Frampton, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, managed to throw nearly 600 punches, but he connected at just 22 percent.
As was the case in the first fight, the rematch was fought at times at a blistering pace, especially in the second half. Frampton and Santa Cruz combined to throw 193 punches in the final round, 90 of which were thrown by Frampton, the most he threw in any round of the fight.
Leading into the rematch, it became evident that Santa Cruz and Frampton were perhaps forever linked. Santa Cruz had promised to earn back his title and grant Frampton a rematch, while Frampton didn't shy away from expressing his desire to make their rivalry a trilogy.
The two-division titlist Frampton, who was the consensus 2016 Fighter of the Year, told SHOWTIME Sports reporter Jim Gray that Santa Cruz deserved the decision.