Carl Frampton: An Insider’s Look at Davis vs. Santa Cruz

The two-division world champion shares his experiences fighting Leo Santa Cruz and explains why he believes Santa Cruz can defeat Gervonta Davis Saturday night on SHOWTIME PPV.

This Saturday, October 31, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, one of boxing’s most prodigious talents, will look across the ring at veteran four-division world champion, Leo Santa Cruz

Headlining a SHOWTIME pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) live from the Alamodome in San Antonio, the 25-year-old Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) will have the opportunity to record his career best win against one of the best fighters of this 

It’s an opportunity that Carl Frampton is all too familiar with. 

“Leo Santa Cruz is the best fighter I’ve been in the ring with,” said Frampton, a two-division world champion. The statement is lofty praise for the Mexican considering Frampton’s decorated ledger, which includes high-quality operators such as Josh Warrington, Scott Quigg and Nonito Donaire. 

Frampton’s 24 rounds with Santa Cruz, 32, 37-1-1 (19 KOs) that stretched from the summer of 2016 to early into the next year was full of explosive action. Frampton, who tasted success first in a series where each fighter won, was well aware of what he was up against before the inaugural bell rang. 

“He was someone who I had my eye on long before we actually got it on,” revealed Frampton. “It was a fight I wanted to do right after I defeated Hugo Cazares in 2014, but it ended up being Kiko Martinez instead. His power was something that didn’t really concern me, but his stamina was impressive and he liked to overwhelm his opponents as the fight went on. He’s a fighter who throws plenty of punches so matching his output was going to be vital if I was going to beat him. “

Frampton planned accordingly.

“It was important that I made a good start against him and after I hurt him in the second round, it made him think twice of just jumping in and trying to set a quick pace,” said the Belfast native. “It was obvious after a few rounds that he was better than anyone I’d been in the ring with before. Honestly, the third round felt like it was the sixth because it was pretty much non-stop in those first few rounds. I was happy with the start I’d made and I was able to keep it going for the whole 12 rounds.” 

Leo Santa Cruz is the best fighter I’ve been in the ring with. Two-division World Champion - Carl Frampton

With Frampton earning the judge’s plaudits via a majority decision, the closeness of the bout combined with public demand ensured that a rematch was inevitable. Six months after their maiden encounter in Brooklyn, Frampton and Santa Cruz headed to Las Vegas, and the latter gained revenge via the scorecards. The second fight, like most rematches, lacked the tenacity of the original meeting, but the quality remained excellent. Santa Cruz made tactical adjustments and it was enough to level proceedings between the pair. 

“I’ll be honest, I expected him to do the same thing all over again in our rematch because that’s what his career had pretty much up to that point,” said Frampton. “He was still throwing plenty of shots and was being busy, but he was doing it from the outside and keeping it long. It was hard to adjust to and I struggled to get close to him. That shows you how good a fighter he is because he came in and done something completely different and it was enough to get the job done.” 

Oddsmakers have Santa Cruz an underdog against the heavy-handed Davis as he aims to win a world title in a fifth weight class. Frampton agrees that Davis should be the favorite, but sees a window of opportunity for Santa Cruz to pull it off. 

“For all Davis’ qualities, I do think there’s a bit of laziness in him and it looks like he can get bored in the ring sometimes,” said Frampton. “Believe me, he can’t take a moment off against Santa Cruz. If Davis is on it and at his best then it’s going to be a hard night for Santa Cruz, but the later it goes, you have to say that Santa Cruz has a chance because I think he’ll be the freshest man down the stretch.”

For a closer look at Davis vs Santa Cruz, check out our fight night page.

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