Home / Boxing Previews / Frampton, Santa Cruz Massive Rematch Happens Tonight In Las Vegas

Frampton, Santa Cruz Massive Rematch Happens Tonight In Las Vegas

Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

The spotlight lands in familiar venue tonight as Las Vegas' famed MGM Grand plays host to the much awaited rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight "super" title along with a WBC lightweight title clash between champion Dejan Zlaticanin and challenger Mikey Garcia.

Frampton, 23-0 (14), and Santa Cruz, 32-1-1 (18), initially faced off last July with Frampton dethroning Santa Cruz via majority decision at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, arguably home turf for the Irishman. It was a very close fight with the smaller Frampton using his edge in quickness to outbox the lanky Santa Cruz.

It was the first loss for the Californian after winning 11 consecutive world title bouts over three weight classes and the 28 year old now will get another crack at Frampton with Santa Cruz being the "home" fighter this time.

Santa Cruz had patented the approach of overwhelming his opponents with offense, keeping rivals defensive and wearing them down behind a high punch volume, high stamina approach. Frampton, a natural counterpuncher, was able to make Santa Cruz miss repeatedly and then exploit the champion's defensive weaknesses.

Will anything change this time around?

For Santa Cruz to defeat Frampton, he'll have to be more economical in his output, cutting off the ring and forcing a close quarters slugfest where he can exploit the possibly shaky punch resistance of Frampton, who was knocked down twice by Alejandro Gonzalez Jr in 2015.

For Frampton to beat Santa Cruz again, this time in Las Vegas, he'll have to draw Santa Cruz off balance and then go on the attack, retreating before his rival can retaliate. But it will be harder to overcome Santa Cruz via points in Vegas, so Frampton will probably have to either produce a knockdown or obviously win all but one or two rounds.

Look for this one to either end in a draw or with a split decision in favor of Santa Cruz.

The undercard features what is sure to be a barnburner as WBC lightweight king Dejan Zlatcanin, 22-0 (15), meets one of the best lighter division fighters over the last five years in the form of Mikey Garcia, 35-0 (29).

Montenegro based Zlatcanin came out of nowhere to win a split decision against three weight world champ Ricky Burns in 2014, stopped undefeated contender Ivan Redkatch in 2015 before winning the vacant WBC crown in 2016 against little known Franklin Mamani.

The 32 year old now steps up to the genuine big time against Garcia, who went 4-0 in world title fights during 2013-2014, defeating Orlando Salido, Rocky Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez and Juan Carlos Burgos for the WBO feather and super feather crowns.

California's Garcia was then sidelined for two years over a promotional dispute and returned to the ring in July to stop former WBC feather champ Elio Rojas in the fifth round in a super lightweight contest.

Once the bell rings tonight, expect the shorter champion to put pressure on Garcia to force a brawl, which should test the chin of the challenger at lightweight as Zlaticanin punches much harder than his KO ratio would suggest.

But that approach is a risky one for the Montenegro man as the 29 year old Garcia is very dangerous, particularly with a left hook that has repeatedly floored and knocked out world class operators.

Don't expect this one to go the distance but it will probably be the most exciting clash of the night, for as long as it lasts, at the MGM Grand!

About Richard Eberline

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