In a huge night of boxing at featherweight level, Leo Santa Cruz scored a TKO victory in the fifth round over Kiko Martinez in Anaheim, California. Meanwhile, over the water in Manchester, England, Carl Frampton obtained a points victory over WBA champion Scott Quigg in a super-bantamweight contest.
In the Showtime main event, Leo Santa Cruz made the first successful defence of his WBA Super World featherweight title. Veteran Kiko Martinez made a spirited attempt to unseat him but in the end was defeated comprehensively by the 27-year-old Mexican.
Santa Cruz opted for power from the outset, and had the challenger down twice in the first round. All guts, Martinez recovered to launch a fightback but lost steam again in the fifth. Power and speed from Santa Cruz came to tell and in the end the referee stepped in to save Martinez from further punishment.
Martinez, post-fight, said that his opponent had broken his strategy and had fought “a great fight.” Santa Cruz, who took care of business as widely expected, said after the fight that he is now “ready for anybody.”
In Manchester, at the MEN Arena, a much bigger crowd witnessed a full 12-round clash between Irish IBF champion Frampton and English WBA king Scott Quigg. Frampton unified the titles, earning a split decision of 115-113 to Quigg, and two counts of 116-112 to Frampton.
At times dull, at times fiery, the fight saw Quigg firmly outclassed. Ultimately the Bury fighter was seen by the judges to have taken too many shots. Despite a spirited late comeback from the 10th, the decision could only go to the Irishman.
Frampton, after the fight, expressed disbelief at the split decision. He called for the referee who plumped for Quigg to have “a good hard look” at himself. Quigg, post-fight, apologised to his fans and followers on Twitter for “letting you down”.
Respective victories for Santa Cruz and Frampton could now set them on course for a blockbuster clash. Before his bout with Martinez, Santa Cruz expressed his desire to beat him “much better” than Frampton and Quigg had done – to show he was “at their level”, or better.