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Boxing Breakdown: Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz II fight preview and prediction

Check out our full preview for this weekend’s big boxing rematch - Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz live on Showtime.

Boxing: Santa Cruz vs Frampton Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday, Showtime presents a big card headlined by the rematch between Carl Frampton (23-0; 14 KO) and Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1; 18 KO). This Featherweight (126 lb.) fight is for the WBA title Frampton won from Santa Cruz in their last fight. Ring Magazine has Frampton ranked at #2 in the division behind Gary Russell Jr. and Santa Cruz at #4; Frampton is also #10 on the pound for pound list. Showtime Championship Boxing Frampton vs. Santa Cruz II airs live this Saturday, January 28 on Showtime with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET. Also included on the broadcast is Mikey Garcia vs. Dejan Zlaticanin.

How do these two stack up?

Frampton: 29 years old | 5’5" | 62" reach | orthodox stance
Santa Cruz: 28 years old | 5’7" | 69" reach | orthodox stance

What have these two done recently?

Frampton: W - Leo Santa Cruz (MD) | W - Scott Quigg (SD) | W - Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. (UD)
Santa Cruz: L - Carl Frampton (UD) | W - Kiko Martinez (KO) | W - Abner Mares (MD)

How did these two get here?

Irish fighter Frampton came into the first Santa Cruz fight as an undefeated world champion at 122 pounds. That was his first fight moving up to Featherweight, and by defeating one of the top Featherweights in the world, he made an immediate statement in the division. When you add in his early 2016 win over the highly ranked Scott Quigg, it’s clear Frampton had a stellar year - enough to earn him Fighter of the Year honors on more than one year-end poll. He’s massively popular in the UK right now, and with a win here he looks to set up a title unification fight with Lee Selby that would be a major event there.

The Frampton fight was the first loss for the tough Santa Cruz. A high-volume, all-action fighter, Santa Cruz had looked great against relatively overmatched opponents for years before really turning heads with his 2015 win over Abner Mares. For the first Frampton fight, Santa Cruz’s father and trainer Jose was struggling with cancer that kept him largely on the sidelines. He is back with his son for this one.

What can fans expect?

The last fight was excellent, and it’s hard to envision this one being anything less. Both are exciting fighters, though Frampton is certainly more willing to play a cautious, tactical game if needed - he used that at times against both of his 2016 opponents. Santa Cruz is what Santa Cruz is - an aggressive, deceptively technical fighter who will look to overwhelm Frampton. It’s possible that with his dad back on the team and healthy, Santa Cruz will be able to make the very minor adjustments to get the win. He certainly was not dominated last time, and it won’t take much to turn that around. But Frampton is the more varied fighter and the more cagey of the two. I anticipate him learning a lot from that first fight and showing more decisively that he has the solution to the Santa Cruz riddle.
Prediction: Frampton, UD

Who should watch?

Fight fans, period. It’s a very good fight between true world class talents with a high potential for excitement.