Editorials

What’s Next for Leo Santa Cruz?

Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz 2 - Julio Sanchez RBRBoxing (22)

All photos by Julio Sanchez/RBRBoxing

Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz 2 did not disappoint.

In another exciting bout, Santa Cruz was able to avenge his first loss against Frampton, walking away with a majority decision win. Santa Cruz–the challenger going into the second bout–regained his Featherweight world title on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Santa Cruz was able to execute a brilliant game plan, refraining from going back to his typical brawler style and fighting at the end of his jab.

At the end of the thrilling bout and a close decision victory, Santa Cruz pledged to honor the promise of a trilogy. Both fighters showed class and the utmost respect for one another leading up to the fight and afterward– but it was clear that Frampton and his team are eager to make the third fight happen as possible, with hopes that it will take place in Belfast, Ireland.

At the post fight press conference, Barry McGuigan (per The Telegraph), Frampton’s manager, said that they would push for the fight to be in Belfast. “He said he would come to Belfast. We’ve now come twice to America. He’s an honourable guy. I don’t like the fact that Santa Cruz was also saying afterwards there are other great fights out there. He said there are a lot of options.”

“That kind of concerns me,” added McGuigan, who revealed that influential boxing manager Al Haymon had already agreed behind the scenes that a third fight between the two elite Featherweights would take place.

But with all of that being said, the issue will be whether it will be the next fight for both men and where the fight would take place. Like Santa Cruz stated, “There are a lot of options.” The Featherweight division at present has a number of great potential matchups.

The trilogy of Santa Cruz vs. Frampton is very appealing for boxing fans and it would undoubtedly be another great fight. With both men looking to break the tie– this would likely be the most thrilling of the fights between the two.

Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz 2 - Julio Sanchez RBRBoxing (10)

For Santa Cruz to come out victorious again, he would have to be strategic much like he was in the second fight and use his reach advantage and jab to control the pace. He would have to avoid brawling with Frampton and counter while Frampton comes in to attack.

Though I am sure there are few people who would protest the idea of another fight between these two warriors, Leo Santa Cruz does indeed have other options.

A rematch against Abner Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) who currently holds the WBA Featherweight title would be a very another great matchup. The two fought in August of 2015 and after a tough fight, Santa Cruz edged out Mares with a majority-decision victory.

A fight against Lee Selby (23-1, 8 KOs) who is the IBF featherweight champion would make for an intriguing matchup as well. Stylistically, this fight would be interesting–both men are quick and not afraid to exchange.

Another potential matchup would be a fight against Gary Russell Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs), who is the current WBC Featherweight title holder. This would make for an exciting bout between two fighters, who in terms of skills are very much on the same level.

I can’t imagine there are many boxing fans out there that aren’t hoping for a third fight between Santa Cruz and Frampton. In the first two fights, there wasn’t a dull moment–both men left it all in the ring.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the trilogy happens, but in the meantime–with how competitive the Featherweight division is–it looks as if future matchups for either fighter will be exciting nonetheless.

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