By David Mohan

SHANE McGuigan predicts Leo Santa Cruz will try and make a fast start when the Mexican attempts to reclaim the WBA featherweight title from Carl Frampton at the MGM Grand tomorrow night.
In their first meeting in Brooklyn back in July last year, it was Frampton who made the much better start, staggering ‘El Terremoto’ back onto the ropes with a left hand and ‘The Jackal’s’ trainer expects Santa Cruz to try and reverse that tomorrow, but doesn’t see how this approach can work.
“He layers his punches. He starts off feeling his way in,” notes McGuigan.
“The double jab and right hand – there’s not a lot of meat on those shots. If you saw his fight with Kiko Martinez, he can generate a bit of whip and have some power. He puts some power in at the end of his combinations. That doesn’t work against someone like Carl who doesn’t let you hit him with those fourth and fifth punches. I believe he is going to try and punch hard at the start of his combinations and stamp his authority early, focus on the positives and not the negatives from the first fight.
“What Leo Santa Cruz needs to do to win this fight is put his hands up, set an uncomfortable pace, work early on and try to get Carl to walk into a hard shot. I know he’s going to punch hard but this something he hasn’t had to do before. Now he suddenly has to change it, can he actually continue his punch output? “Will he be exhausted after four or five rounds? This is all unknown and makes me even more confident because I know Carl doesn’t have to change much, just refine a few things.”
Given he and Frampton have the experience of facing an opponent for the second time when they took the European and then the IBF super-bantamweight title off Martinez, they will know exactly how to approach tomorrow’s rematch with Santa Cruz.
However, there is no set script warns McGuigan who has called Santa Cruz’s bluff in terms of the Mexican’s claims he intends to box from the outside more instead of marching forward and throwing punches relentlessly as is his norm.
“The second Kiko Martinez fight, he was a bit gun shy and wary. He was the champion but nearly came in as the opponent where the first time he came in as a champion,” he added.
“Leo Santa Cruz has revenge in his head. He is so hungry and this could be his downfall.
“He is a Mexican guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and will go out on his shield. It’s kill or be killed. “He knows if he steps back, he’ll be out-boxed. He’s talking crap and trying to lead us up the garden path by saying ‘I’m going to box you more and use the reach and distance’. He can’t do that. How can a guy programmed to do things suddenly change? He is going to have to do what he does best, only a bit more and hope for the best.”
On such a massive stage, temperament will certainly play a part with the manic excitement due to go up another few notches at today’s weigh-in that is scheduled for 3pm local time.
McGuigan is confident his man will take it all in his stride as he has done throughout his career and thrive on the atmosphere come fight night.
“You can believe your own hype, but Carl isn’t that person,” stressed McGuigan.
“Like, he saw the billboard with him on it and he says ‘oh look, there’s Mikey Garcia on there with me’ so it’s a humbling approach.
“It’s the same for me. This is just another sparring session. People don’t see the hours we put in the gym, the years of blood, sweat and tears in the gym. Those are the days that build us for nights like this.”

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