Carl Frampton defeated Hugo Cazares by knockout in the second round on Friday, as the Mexican veteran failed to react to the count from official Victor Loughlin following a thunderous left hook.
Northern Ireland's Carl Frampton beats Mexican Hugo Cazares in the second round of their super-bantamweight WBC title eliminator— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 4, 2014
The win sets up a potential super-bantamweight world title fight with either Leo Santa Cruz or Guillermo Rigondeaux, who offered to fight Frampton in Belfast if he won Friday's fight, according to Write on the Button:
Rigondeaux's manager offering for Rigo to fight Frampton in Belfast if he wins tonight. I believe he's walking into the ring now. #boxing— Write on the Button (@wotbboxing) April 4, 2014
Cazares looked to be fine as he smiled at Frampton for the duration of the count but never lifted his knee off the canvas and was counted out, to his dismay. It was a costly mistake from the two-time world champion, who hadn't appeared to be in any serious trouble prior to the knockout.
Frampton came out firing early, looking fresh and quick as he combined good power with some solid combinations, but Cazares was up to the challenge and had some success counterpunching in the first round.
The local challenger seemed to be gaining the upper hand in the second round, and proceedings halted for a short while when Cazares was caught with a low blow that seemed to take out his left leg for a moment.
But as the fight resumed, Cazares seemed to be fine and started opening up more to match Frampton's pace. Defending near the ropes, a wild right jab went over the head of Frampton, and the Northern Irish fighter answered with a massive left that hit Cazares straight on his unprotected jaw.
Cazares' legs clearly went as the fight appeared to be over, but the veteran seemed to recover quickly, taking a knee and catching his breath, while Loughlin started the count.
The Mexican never got up though, and Loughlin had no choice but to call the fight, despite the objections from Cazares' corner. As shared by Sky Sport's Jamie Casey, the conclusion was logical, and it didn't seem like Cazares would have survived the second round:
Cracking shot from Frampton, dunno what Cazares was playing at missing the count, although he would've been finished off anyway I'm sure— Jamie Casey (@skyjamiecasey) April 4, 2014
Boxing Scene's Terry Dooley agrees Cazares has no excuse:
Hugo Cazares can't blame that on lost in translation. He has got 10 fingers. Get up when the ref holds up 8. Poor concentration #boxing— Terry Dooley (@Terryboxing) April 4, 2014
This fight was likely the 36-year-old's last shot at one of the super-bantamweight world titles, and a second-round knockout is not the way the Mexican veteran wanted to end things. But Frampton looked quicker and stronger, and his movement around the ring was top-notch for the duration of both short rounds.
Frampton will now have to decide between travelling to meet Santa Cruz for the WBC title or staying in Belfast and taking on the very highly rated Rigondeaux, who holds the WBA and WBO titles.
The smart money is on Santa Cruz, as Friday's fight was always meant to be a decider for the right to fight the Mexican WBC champion in the first place, as reported by The Guardian's Kevin Mitchell.
Rigondeaux in Belfast would surely make for the more interesting matchup, as the Cuban is about as close to unbeatable as it gets. But the crowd on Friday was phenomenal, and if Frampton believes he could end the reign of the mighty Rigondeaux, don't be surprised if he takes up the Cuban on his offer.