Frampton outpoints Santa Cruz to become two-weight world champion
Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) won the WBA featherweight title by outpointing defending champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Frampton, a former IBF and WBA super bantamweight champion, become the first Northern Irishman to win world titles in two weight divisions.
Two judges scored the action-packed fight 117-111, 116-112 for Frampton, while the third ruled it 114-114.
Frampton made the stronger start and rocked the Mexican with a left hook in the second round.
The Belfast boxer continued to get the better of Santa Cruz in the third, landing several uppercuts and body shots.
But Santa Cruz, who had a two-inch reach advantage, began to find his distance and unloaded some solid combinations at the halfway point.
While Santa Cruz was throwing more punches, Frampton was landing the cleaner shots with good movement.
However Santa Cruz came on strong in the later rounds, landing a series of blows to the head and body. But Frampton took them well and fired back until the final bell.
"It's a dream come true," said Frampton. "I had the dream of winning a world title and I won it, but I never thought I'd win in two divisions. It was a tough fight. I wanted it to be a tough fight because I wanted a fight the people could remember. I respect him a lot. He was a true warrior."
Also on the card, former two-weight world champion Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) returned to the ring after a 23-month layoff and stopped former world champion Elio Rojas (24-3, 14 KOs) in a light welterweight bout.
American Garcia, who has been out of action due to issues over his contract with his former promoter Top Rank, looked in top condition and floored Dominican Rojas four times en route to a fifth round TKO.
Garcia has previously won world titles at featherweight and super featherweight.