Carl Frampton defeats Leo Santa Cruz to win WBA featherweight title

Carl Frampton (C) celebrates winning the WBA featherwight title with trainer Shane McGuigan (R) and manager Barry McGuigan (L)
Image: Carl Frampton (C) celebrates winning the WBA featherweight title with trainer Shane McGuigan (R) and manager Barry McGuigan (L)

Carl Frampton became a two-weight world champion after defeating Leo Santa Cruz by a majority points decision in Brooklyn to claim the WBA featherweight title.

The former super-bantamweight champion (23-0 KO 14), fighting for the first time at featherweight, produced a superb performance to inflict the first defeat of Santa Cruz's career and was declared the clear winner by two judges, with the third ruling it as a draw.

By doing so, Frampton, who made the decision to move up in weight in February after unifying the IBF and WBA super-bantamweight titles with victory over Scott Quigg, claimed the belt his manager Barry McGuigan won in 1985.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 30:  Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico (gold trunks) fights Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland (blue trunks) during their  12 round WBA Super  fe
Image: Frampton produced a superb display to claim world title glory in his first fight at featherweight

The Northern Irishman promised to prove that "he was the best featherweight in world" in the build-up to the bout at the Barclays Center and he did not disappoint in the early rounds, rocking Santa Cruz onto the ropes with a series of powerful, sharp punches.

Frampton continued to land the more effective punches, but Santa Cruz, who was making the second defence of the title he won in August 2015, eventually settled down and responded with productive sixth and seventh rounds.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 30:  Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico (gold trunks) fights Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland (blue trunks) during their  12 round WBA Super  fe
Image: The Northern Irishman connects with a firm left

Santa Cruz (32-1-1 KO18), a three-weight world champion, dished out some lethal combinations, but was unable to capitalise as Frampton absorbed the punishment before regaining the initiative in the following two rounds.

Frampton continued to look assured until the closing stages of the fight, when he was tested by a powerful overhand right from Santa Cruz in the 10th round.

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 30:  Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico (gold trunks) fights Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland (blue trunks) during their  12 round WBA Super  fe
Image: Frampton was rocked by a powerful right from Santa Cruz in the 10th round

But a late surge from Santa Cruz was not enough. Despite judge Guido Cavalleri scoring the contest 114-114, Frank Lombardi (116-112) and Tom Schreck (117-111) ruled in favour of Frampton, sparking joyous celebrations in the ring. 

Meanwhile, Mikey Garcia (35-0 KO29), making his first appearance in nearly three years, produced a dominant display and stopped former WBA featherweight champion Elio Rojas (23-3 KO14) in the fifth round on the undercard.

Garcia, who had been out of the ring due to issues with his former promoter Top Rank, looked in top condition and proved too much for Rojas, who was knocked down five times in the fight.

The unbeaten American twice sent Rojas to the canvas in the third and continued his dominance in the fight by claiming a further knock down in the fourth, landing with a powerful right.

Rojas was once again on the canvas early in the fifth and the fight was brought to an end when Garcia landed with a stunning left hook.

Veteran fighter Paulie Malignaggi (36-7 KO7) claimed a unanimous points victory over Brooklyn rival Gabriel Bracero (24-3 KO5).

The former WBA welterweight champion was always in control of the bout, leading Bracero into individual counters and landing with effective combinations.

Bracero often struggled to land, but did connect towards the end of the sixth round with a powerful right to the body.

However, he failed to build on that and the two judges ruled the fight 98-92, the third judge scoring it 96-94. 
 

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