Santa Cruz avenges Frampton defeat, Berchelt upsets Vargas | Def Pen
Santa Cruz
Leo Santa Cruz defeated Carl Frampton by majority decision in their rematch on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray/ USA Today Sports

January 28 was a big night in the sport of boxing.

At the MGM Grand Garden Arena, a rematch of one of the best fights of 2016 took place as Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KO’s) looked to pick up another win against the volume-punching Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KO’s). But it was not meant to be for Frampton.

Santa Cruz utilized his boxing ability to outpoint Frampton by majority decision to reclaim the WBA featherweight title that he lost to him in their first fight. This was another very close, back-and-forth fight that saw both fighters have their moments. The judges scored the bout 114-114 even, 115-113 for Santa Cruz, and 115-113 for Santa Cruz. Def Pen also scored the bout 115-113 for “El Terremoto”.

In the first fight, Frampton was able to counter the hard-charging Santa Cruz in an inside battle. But in this fight, Santa Cruz took advantage of his seven-inch reach advantage and boxed more. He was very sharp and had Frampton walking into counter punches all night long. Frampton was able to close the distance in some rounds, but the three-weight world champion was able to dictate the range on his way to, perhaps, the biggest win of his career.

This was another excellent fight and a rematch makes sense and is likely. Both fighters expressed interest in completing the trilogy after the fight to settle this great rivalry.

In the co-feature, Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KO’s) obliterated Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1, 15 KO’s) via third-round KO to claim the WBC lightweight championship. Garcia is now a three-weight champion and has a knockout of the year contender on his resume.

Over at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, one of boxing’s greatest action stars took to the ring. WBC super featherweight champion Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (23-1-2, 17 KO’s) has been in, perhaps, the last two fights of the year against Takashi Miura and Orlando Salido.

And this night produced another cracking fight.

He faced off against big-punching Mexican countryman Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28 KO’s) and it did not go as planned for Vargas. He was brutally punished throughout the fight and was ultimately stopped in the eleventh round after a beating. This was a coming out party for the 25-year-old Berchelt, who was largely an unknown going into this fight.

But he landed 429 punches on Vargas thru those 11 rounds in a masterful performance. His offense was unstoppable for Vargas and busted up the face of the now former champion. But this was a barnburner, as Vargas threw over 1000 punches himself, and landed 330 of them according to CompuBox.

Berchelt has now proved himself as an exciting fighter with big power, giving him options for his next fight. Miura (31-3-2, 24 KO’s), who lost to Vargas in the 2015 fight of the year, won his fight in the co-feature and is now the mandatory challenger to Berchelt’s title. Berchelt could also fight a rematch with Vargas or make an exciting fight with someone like Salido. The 130-pound division is full of action fighters and we should see some fun fights for these warriors.

Tonight was a great one for the sport of boxing. We saw highlight-reel knockouts, star-making performances, and all-out wars. What else could we ask for? Rematches. And even those are possible now too.


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