Sport

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz's bromance rumbles on

Carl Frampton, center right, of Northern Ireland, hugs Leo Santa Cruz after their featherweight title boxing match, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher).
By Paul McConville

SOMETIMES when you watch top class sportsmen, they make it look so easy, to the point where you think to yourself 'I could do that'. Of course, that feeling lasts about three seconds but when Sky Sports commentator Adam Smith announced before the Frampton-Santa Cruz rematch in the early hours of yesterday morning that Frampton had piled on 13lbs since the weigh-in, I thought to myself 'I could definitely do that'.

Of course, if I were in Las Vegas, hoisting on the best part of stone could probably be completed with relative ease by rocking up at breakfast buffet.

Still when both fighters entered the ring, there wasn't pickings on them.

Just in case you'd missed Carl Frampton pointing it out during the week, Leo Santa Cruz is a nice guy. The Mexican-born Californian, as Smith described him, is certainly not a 'bad hombre'.

But don’t take the Jackal's word for it, Sky Sports pundit Carl Froch revealed his first hand experience of what a great guy the Mexican is: "He's a real likeable character. I met him after the press conference and he shook my hand and said hello." Wow, doesn't take much to impress the Cobra.

All the well-documented bonhomie between the fighters was put on hold once the first bell sounded and Adam Smith, a one-man dispenser of hyperbole, didn't take long getting into his stride.

They were going "toe-to-toe" from the off, Santa Cruz bringing the fight to Frampton. "Frampton-Santa Cruz II is well and truly underway," barked Smith as the first round ended with frantic flurry from both men.

But things were looking ominous and Smith and Froch could feel it. Santa Cruz looked sharper and more measured in his approach than he had had been in the first fight in New York.

And you knew things weren't going well when, as early as the second round, Smith invoked the memory of Stevie Cruz, recalling the notorious defeat suffered by the Jackal's manager Barry McGuigan "in scorching temperatures in the car park of Caeser's Palace."

The heat in the MGM Grand was being turned up Santa Cruz, and the Frampton contingent in the crowd, which boasted nearly as many Northern Ireland tops as you could see in downtown Lyon last summer, were getting nervy. The Jackal needed to pull out something special, but the damage had been done. Smith could tell and was beginning to lay the groundwork for a third fight in the later rounds: "These fighters are so well-matched, they're almost made for each other," before practically begging for an extension to the rivalry in the last round: "I could watch these fighters for another 12 rounds..."

"Well you could be watching them for another 12 rounds," Froch quipped. It was all bit too close for comfort for the Cobra, and we're not talking about Frampton's invite for Leo to stay in his gaffe for the Belfast rematch. The inevitable decision was announced, the Jackal was gracious in defeat and boxing's greatest bromance rumbles on.

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