Mexican warrior Leo Santa Cruz is back where he belongs right now: at the top. The superb fighting machine lost his unbeaten record last summer, when another excellent fighter in Ireland’s Carl Frampton topped him in a genuine FOTY contender.
The two came together in a return in January of this year, and Santa Cruz employed his underrated boxing brain, switched tactics, and avenged his decision loss. A rubber-match looked almost a formality, yet the WBA has now ordered Santa Cruz, 33-1-1(18) to fight a return with the man who also engaged him in a classic battle: Abner Mares.
Mares, 30-2-1(15) dropped a fiercely competitive 12 round majority decision to his countryman in August of 2015, and Mares has since beaten Jesus Cuellar, last December, to get back on top himself. Now it looks as though we are in store for a potentially great rematch. But is it the fight fans really want?
As great as Santa Cruz-Mares I was, and as entertaining as a return fight would no doubt be, doesn’t a third fight between Santa Cruz and Frampton appeal even more? Frampton, who lost his unbeaten record in losing the rematch decision to Santa Cruz, is desperate for the third fight; so too are “The Jackal’s” many passionate fans.
Santa Cruz now has a big decision to make. Looking at things positively; at least fans are assured a damn good fight: whether Santa Cruz opts for Mares II or Frampton III next. But the intense featherweight rivalry that is Santa Cruz-Frampton, as special as it really is, needs its decisive winner – don’t you agree?
Who will Frampton fight next if he doesn’t get the rubber with Santa Cruz? What happens if Frampton loses his next fight, and loses badly? What happens if Santa Cruz loses a return to Mares; will these two engage in a trilogy? In short, is there a danger we may never see the decider between the Mexican and the Irishman?
Let’s hope not. Boxing tradition demands these two meet again, and soon.