IF the fight itself is the night of destiny, then weigh-ins should be called the day of reckoning. It is when the fighter reaffirms he is in top physical shape by taking off his shirt and flexing his muscles for the cameras. It is when he gets to look his opponent directly in the eyes during the stare down to let him know he is ready. And it is when he acknowledges the crowd by reassuring them he is going to come out on top.
For Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz the weigh-in at The Barclays Center was all of the above. If either has any apprehension about victory their demeanor did not give it away.
At Thursday’s press conference Frampton seemed a little taken aback when the cheers for Santa Cruz were louder than those for him, but his Irish backers were out in force yesterday afternoon. Before Frampton entered the stage, Barry McGuigan met their supporters and rallied the troops, many of whom made the trip from Ireland for the fight.
“This is the easiest I’ve made weight in five years,” said Frampton who is moving up to featherweight to challenge Santa Cruz for his titles. Maybe so, but as soon as “The Jackal” got off the scales he gulped a large bottle of water for what seemed like a small eternity.
“I’m coming home with the titles,” said Frampton, telling the crowd what they wanted to hear and what he believes. “We have a game plan I’m not going to give away. Whatever it takes to win, I’ll do.”
Santa Cruz did not predict victory, but his smile and the confident manner he carried himself with was one of a winner. “I will go out and give the fans a great fight so they’ll go home happy,” he said.
Weigh-ins allow us to play amateur psychologist in determining who will prevail, but it is not exactly a science. When a young Cassius Clay went ballistic at the weigh–in before his match against Sonny Liston in 1964 it was determined that the challenger was scared to death when in reality it was all a psychological ploy to unravel the champion. The invincible Liston determined that Clay was crazy and quit as soon as the going got rough. That isn’t quite what transpired though.
Yesterday’s weigh–in influenced me to change my prediction a day before the fight from Santa Cruz to Frampton. It is about the expectations both have. Santa Cruz keeps talking about providing a great fight for the fans. For that to happen Frampton will have to exchange punches for long periods of time. It is not going to happen. Although Frampton will periodically fight from the pocket, my sense in spending time with his camp is that he will move in and out and use his boxing ability to win rounds the majority of the time.
“If I need to go to my plan B I can do that and also win,” says Frampton. He is strategising better than Santa Cruz who might be relying on Frampton to exchange punches most of the time to please the crowd.
Frampton by a split decision is the prediction here. Santa Cruz was extremely confident at the weigh in, but Carl was absolutely resolute. Having to choose between the two attitudes I liked Frampton’s better.