Leo Santa Cruz has beaten Carl Frampton to take back his WBA featherweight title in their thrilling title rematch in Las Vegas. Frampton suffered the first loss of his 24-fight professional career after losing on a majority decision with judges ruling 114-114, 113-115 113-115 in the Mexican's favour - a decision applauded by the Belfast-born fighter.
After Frampton took the win in in their first meeting in July 2016, a third fight between the two now beckons - with Belfast a likely destination.
In another incredibly tightly-contested contest, Santa Cruz took revenge after losing his undefeated record in New York last year, providing a more disciplined performance where he stuck to his game plan religiously.
After an explosive first round, Santa Cruz took control of the second, keeping Frampton at bay with his effective jab and forcing the champion into a couple of early mistakes. The contest swapped between each man patiently stalking the other and explosive, short exchanges, before Frampton forced his opponent into the ropes with a neat flurry late on in the third. The Irishman hit the canvas in the latter stages of the fourth but referee Kenny Bayless immediately ruled he had tripped.
Santa Cruz looked to pounce on a big missed uppercut from Frampton but the latter superbly evaded his shots in the fifth. The Californian again looked for a big finish in the final 10 seconds of the sixth and while Frampton managed to evade some of his shots, it was the challenger who was consistently having the final word.
During the eighth, Santa Cruz looked to be feeling the pace of the fight with Frampton putting his opponent under increasing pressure. The challenger roared back in the ninth, however, connecting with a series of damaging combinations that caught the Irishman clean, leaving him with a look of dejection as he retreated back to his corner.
Needing a big 11th round, Frampton was overwhelmed again by Santa Cruz who swarmed his opponent with slick combinations, shrugging off his attempts to trade with him. With championship gold almost back in his grasp, he expertly evaded Frampton's attempts to end the contest with a big knockout, seeing out the final round to take his belt back.