Whenever a fighter enters the squared circle, his primary goal is always the same: Hit and don’t get hit. It’s obviously easier said than done—unless you’re Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton.
The two undefeated boxers—who will meet for Santa Cruz’s 126-pound world championship Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT)—have statistically shown in their last handful of bouts to be among the top offensive and defensive fighters in the world.
For instance, according to CompuBox, Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs) has thrown an average of nearly 85 punches per round and connected at a 33.1 percent clip in his last eight contests. By comparison, the average fighter throws 55.5 punches per round and has a connect rate of just 16.9 percent.
In fact, Santa Cruz fires nearly as many power punches per round (53.9) as the average fighter throws total punches.
But wait, there’s more: When it comes to boxing’s most important metric that for years was dominated by Floyd Mayweather Jr.—plus-minus connect percentage, in which an opponent’s connect percentage is subtracted from a fighter’s—Santa Cruz comes in at plus-15.8 over his last nine contests.
That puts the 27-year-old three-division champion ahead of such superstars as Andre Ward (+15.3, last nine fights), Gennady Golovkin (+15.2, last 11 fights), Erislandy Lara (+14.5, last 12 fights), Terence Crawford (+13.2, last six fights), Ramon Gonzalez (+12.5, last 14 fights) and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (+12, last eight fights).
Not to be outdone, Carl Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) has few peers when it comes to throwing jabs and defending power shots.
The former 122-pound champ from Northern Ireland fired his jab 34.3 times per round in his last six contests, which trails only 126-pound champion Jesus Cuellar in average number of jabs thrown.
Most importantly, the threat of the jab has helped the 5-foot-5 Frampton avoid his opponents’ most lethal shots: He was tagged with just 29.2 percent of the power punches thrown at him over his previous six bouts.
Frampton’s defense will have to be on-point come Saturday, seeing that Santa Cruz has landed nearly 47 percent of his power shots over his last eight fights.
In other words, with the offensive-minded Santa Cruz facing the defensively gifted Frampton, this one has all the makings of a classic chess match.
For complete coverage of Santa Cruz vs Frampton, visit our fight page.