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Leo Santa Cruz gets revenge, beats Carl Frampton to win back WBA featherweight title

Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton put on a show in the Showtime Boxing main event, and Santa Cruz took back the WBA featherweight title he lost to Frampton last year.

Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Showtime Boxing had a terrific doubleheader from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event, WBA featherweight champion Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) and Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) went toe-to-toe in an immediate rematch of their thrilling encounter from last July. Frampton took the title away from Santa Cruz that night in Brooklyn, and Santa Cruz snatched it back on Saturday night.

In the early stages, Santa Cruz worked behind his jab, using his reach advantage to back Frampton up and keep him at bay. There were quality back-and-forth exchanges in the opening round, but the 2nd round was slower paced. Frampton had solid moments in the 3rd and 4th round, and the action really picked up in the latter. It was another high quality matchup between these two well-matched featherweights.

Frampton appeared to be taking over during the middle rounds, as he was winning several exchanges on the inside through some effective pressuring and body-head combinations. He also displayed good head movement against the taller, rangier fighter. The majority of these rounds were close to score, but the general consensus was that Santa Cruz had the slight advantage.

In the final four rounds, Santa Cruz outworked Frampton in another pulsating encounter. The Mexican really stitched together some fantastic body shots and Frampton looked a bit labored. Leo also really gave Frampton issues with the jab as Frampton tried to close distance. Frampton nevertheless was more than willing to engage in a firefight and throw everything he had at Santa Cruz, but during those exchanges, Santa Cruz’s punches appeared sharper. It wasn’t as exciting as their first meeting, but it was nevertheless an absorbing, intriguing matchup. While the fight was close, Frampton and his trainer Shane McGuigan had no problem with the final decision, with was a Santa Cruz win. The Mexican fans were elated, while the Irish fans were disappointed.

Official result: Leo Santa Cruz def. Carl Frampton by majority decision (114-114, 115-113, 115-113) to win the WBA featherweight (126 lbs) title

Both men seem down for a trilogy matchup, and I don’t think there would be too many complaints about that. Santa Cruz was a deserved winner with his more tactically sound fight plan, which went away from his usual style of often throwing 100+ punches per round.