Carl Frampton’s reign as WBA World featherweight champion ended by Leo Santa Cruz - full report
Carl Frampton’s reign as WBA World featherweight champion ended after he lost a majority points decision to great rival Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas.
One judge Burt Clements scored the fight a draw, 114-114 but the other two judges Dave Moretti and Glen Feldman scored it for the Mexican, 115-113 to leave Frampton dethroned and heartbroken.
Northern Ireland hero Frampton gracefully said: “The best man won on the night. I’m gutted… we’ll have to do it again.
“He was very clever, he used his reach and he deserved it. I hope now he’ll come to Belfast for the third fight.
He added: “I feel I let the fans down. Leo told me what he was going to do and he did it, he used his range more.”
Backed by a staggering 4,000 fans from his homeland, Frampton was aiming to equal the record of Dave McAuley’s six straight World title victories but right from the start it was evident that he was in for a hard night.
Santa Cruz said that hewould make adjustments for their re-match, having lost to Frampton six months ago in the Barclays Centre, New York and he did – creating more distance between himself and the Jackal.
It was an electric atmosphere in the arena - where so many legendary fighters have topped the bill – and both men rose to the occasion from the opening bell, producing another epic encounter over 12 hard rounds.
Santa Cruz clearly took the opening round but from then on there was very little between the two but on many occasions Frampton’s work fell short and he found himself outworked.
But Frampton also had his success and in many rounds he was the man landing the better quality of punch, landing heavily but to his credit Santa Cruz soaked them up and fought back.
Now Frampton is hoping that Santa Cruz will do as he promised and have their third encounter in Belfast, with Windsor Park a strong possibility as the venue.
Meanwhile, on the undercard Mikey Garcia became a three-weight world champion when he stopped Dejan Zlaticanin to lift the WBC World lightweight belt in the third round.