Intense but respectful rivalries have littered the likes of the featherweight division for decades.
Sequels that highlight the respect between the two combatants in the most brutal fashion, followed by the rubber match that settles a fistic quarrel once and for all.
In order for Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz to compete in such a rubber match, then the magnificent Northern Irishman must be conquered for the first time in his professional tenor.
The slight favourite must be handed a maiden defeat in the same way that Leo Santa Cruz was himself last July.
It is remarkable to think that the first meeting between the two was half a year ago, and the two have understandably not fought since, with the rematch pending until this Saturday.
Frampton 23-0(14KO’s), the WBA Featherweight ruler, makes the first defence of the crown he took from Santa Cruz 32-1-1(18KO’s) in New York.
The tantalising clash drew thousands of Irish fans to hold their breath as Frampton was proclaimed as the new champion via majority decision.
But the switch of venue to Las Vegas will certainly draw a greater Mexican contingent.
The belief is that the extra ounce of energy that Frampton drew from that Irish crowd in New York, will be drawn by Cruz in Vegas.
In the first encounter, many saw Cruz’s reach becoming a constant problem that Frampton would struggle to tackle.
But Frampton avoided the Cruz jab like Russell Wilson avoids being sacked, while landing his own to place Cruz in a position he never expected to be in.
Cruz, as he often is, acted as the aggressor, but without the success of his long jab, he struggled to find his range, while Frampton pounced with every opportunity to score hurtful blows.
A recap of the first fight – hat tip and credit Showtime YouTube:
Cruz took his licks throughout the contest, and as Frampton’s energy bar drained, Cruz’s seemed to refill.
Still the challenger responded in the championship rounds, turning the contest into a war of attrition, a give-and-take fight that left the entire Barclays Center on its feet like Randy Foye had just knocked down a buzzer-beater to win the game.
Now it is the time for adjustments, and tweaks to each fighter’s game plans to change the outcome of the fight.
For Frampton, much of that will stay the same, but like in any sport, you can’t beat the same team/player the same way twice.
Cruz will now have a greater idea of when Frampton likes to take his foot off the gas, while he will also be aware of not allowing himself to slip into such a one-dimensional approach.
Should Frampton continue to judge the distance better, then he will once again come out to a good start.
But any early mistakes could be costly. An early knockdown for Cruz could change the dynamic of this fight completely.
The fleeting feeling is of that occurring exactly. Cruz, quicker off the mark, will pounce on a short lapse in concentration where Frampton takes too long to spring out of range.
A flash knockdown can be scored in those opening exchanges.
But it won’t take long for the champion to regain his composure and confidence to fire off combinations in the pocket.
But this time around, Cruz will be quicker and sharper to respond, culminating in a shootout from the early doors.
With the pair feasting on each other’s energy, and the energy of the crowd, they will continue at such a frantic pace late into the fight.
Despite landing the more punches, Frampton will tire first, with Cruz’s unrelenting approach working a treat as it has in each of his previous bouts.
Both boxers believe they will be able to take control of proceedings this time around, but it seems the pair are destined to go down to the wire.
Frampton vs Santa Cruz 2 Prediction:
A controversial ending seems to be in store, with ringside scoring being very similar to what we saw over a week ago, between James DeGale and Badou Jack.
Picking who gets the decision is impossible to call when expectation is of such a close encounter.
But the call is for a rubber match to be setup for the fall, as Santa Cruz wins by the slimmest of margins.