Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz II & Mikey Garcia vs Dejan Zlaticanin
BY KID HERSH
From the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Nevada came the extremely anticipated rematch for featherweight supremacy.
First up was was Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29KO's) vs Dejan Zlaticanin (18-0, 11KO's). The referee was Tony Weeks. In the first round Mikey was picking his spots and breaking the guard of Zlaticanin with right hands as well as hitting home with left hooks occasionally. It looked like Dejan was hurt a couple of times from flush shots but nothing pushed him backwards or changed his style. In the third round the fight was all over suddenly early in the third round when Garcia landed a right uppercut that put Zlaticanin out on his feet but Garcia sidestepped and while Zlaticanin stayed on his feet he was wide open for a Mikey right hand that put him out completely. People were worried about Dejan because he was down for quite a while but he ended up ok and Garcia showed great sportsmanship in his win in the post fight interview.
Main event time featuring the Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18KO's) vs Carl Frampton (23-0, 14KO's). Referee was Kenny Bayless. In the first round Frampton was aggressive and stalking Santa Cruz, who was surprisingly giving ground to Frampton instead of coming forward like he does so often in his past fights throughout his career. This continued into the second round, with Santa Cruz being patient while stabbing Frampton with his jab and looking to let Frampton walk into punches he was setting up. Instead of walking into something, Frampton was just sitting on the outside and looking for openings and ways to get in on the bigger man but could not find any chinks in the armor. In the third round Frampton changed his strategy and was looking to walk Santa Cruz into his punches, instead of be the aggressor. The tactic worked, as Frampton was able to find openings and get his punches off first and then get out of range. Frampton was looking like he had the upper hand in the fight but right when you thought he had control it was simply the fact that he was defensive, with very little offense to offer. Framptons offense was not enough to be edging some of these rounds and it was very clear that he was having trouble transitioning between offense and defense effectively, seemingly only able to have one or the other going. This was due to Santa Cruz's new tactics in this fight - namely the most effective one of sticking a jab in Framptons face constantly and whether it was landing or not it was upsetting his rhythm and the aforementioned transitioning between offense and defense. In the fifth round this is exactly what Santa Cruz did as Frampton looked a bit mentally drained by the end of the round because even when he switched to offense he just could not land flush and Santa Cruz was ready to answer with an onslaught of his own. It was obvious in the sixth round that Frampton was looking to be the aggressor and push back his man but Leo Santa Cruz was not looking to engage until he knew that he could press his man without worrying about massive return fire. Leo was really being far more patient in this fight than in the first match and by picking his punches and picking his spots he was edging the advantage over Frampton. In the seventh round The Jackal did a much better job of blending his offense with his defense as he picked his spots and openings one at a time while pressing Santa Cruz around the ring. Leo was trying to hold him off with the jab but it would appear that for at least a round Frampton was able to make himself a smaller target and less predictable for Leo's jab. In the eighth round the fight turned into an inside one, as it was a very tactical matchup still with the action changing hands and both fighters still trying different third either to neutralize the other mans success or try to get their own going consistently. In the eleventh round both men unloaded their best punches, with both having success but the fight having a feel that Leo has really had the performance of his career. Not because it is dominating, but because as Mauro Ranallo and Paulie Malignaggi pointed out; Leo is outboxing the boxer who everyone knows to be more technically superior. The twelfth and final round was a great way to end the fight, with both men swinging away and leaving it all in the ring as they threw nearly 100 punches a piece. The cards came in 114-114, 115-113 X2 for a MD for Leo Santa Cruz to regain his title. Frampton surprisingly said in the post fight multiple times that Santa Cruz won the fight and the better man won and he deserved to win the decision but that he wanted a third fight. He also claimed that Leo said he would come to Belfast if there was a third fight so he hoped he was a man of his word.