Saturday’s bout between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton promises to be enthralling.
Yet, unlike many other matchups involving unbeaten boxers, it is difficult to gauge its significance.
Terence Crawford against Victor Postol represented the light-welterweight division’s best operators at work while Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward will mirror that dynamic at light-heavyweight in November.
What exactly does Santa Cruz versus Frampton, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, symbolise?
Some fans will say a Guillermo Rigondeaux avoidance convention – more on the Cuban later.
This is 29-year-old Frampton’s first featherweight outing and I could not say with any certainty that his Mexican opponent, 27, is the finest fighter at 126 pounds.
The most exciting? Definitely.
Santa Cruz is the betting favourite which is not a huge surprise given his greater height, reach and experience in world title bouts; he has competed in 11 compared to Frampton’s five.
If he starts well – in contrast to his opening against compatriot Abner Mares in their thriller last year – Barry McGuigan’s protégé may face the toughest night of his career.
The Northern Irishman must not be lured into a toe-to-toe battle.
Santa Cruz is in his element in the exchanges and he will not be hesitant, a la Scott Quigg against Frampton, when it comes to letting his hands go with hooks and uppercuts.
Frampton, the former IBF and WBA super-bantamweight champion, boxed well enough in February’s split decision victory over his domestic rival.
It wasn’t great but it did the job.
The same can be said of his American debut last July opposite Alejandro Gonzalez Jr, a Mexican of similar size to Santa Cruz [Frampton recovered from two first-round knockdowns to take a unanimous points win].
His jab worked well in the Quigg clash as did his uppercuts, one of which broke Quigg’s jaw in the fourth round.
Whenever the Bury man managed to pin Frampton to the ropes, the Belfast boy’s low bobbing and weaving movements frustrated him.
A repeat of those tactics on Saturday could see Santa Cruz equally exasperated, as could Frampton’s excellent jab and ability to box on the back foot. He is the bigger puncher here too.
However, late on in the Quigg unification, he was susceptible to straight rights and one in particular rocked him in the 11th round. Elusive he is not.
Neither is Santa Cruz although, for me, the three-weight world title holder has an under-rated high-guard defence.
Kiko Martinez was able to land to the body in his scraps with Frampton and it’s an area I think Santa Cruz will target and exploit.
The man nicknamed El Terremoto – who like Frampton is fighting for the first time in New York – is also the much busier of the two.
In his majority decision over talented compatriot Abner Mares last year he threw an astonishing 1057 punches; against Quigg, Frampton threw just over half of that total.
These factors are why, usually, I’d have no doubts about picking Santa Cruz.
But the build-up has been a tough one for him.
His trainer father Jose’s cancer diagnosis during camp hit him hard and the Mexican, prepared by his brother Antonio, has admitted he came close to withdrawing from the fight.
On Saturday we will learn the extent of how the devastating news has impacted on the WBA featherweight champion’s focus.
Frampton looks remarkably relaxed this week.
For him to take the belt, he must improve significantly on the Quigg performance. His power is unquestionable. Can he slow the furious pace his opponent likes to set?
Amid the arguments put forward by both sets of supporters lies one certainty – neither fighter has been in the ring with this standard of opposition.
Santa Cruz has possessed a crowd-pleasing style since his days as IBF bantamweight champion and it will one day be exploited by a masterful boxer like Vasyl Lomachenko. Cuban genius Rigondeaux would also rise to the challenge.
But in New York on Saturday, the younger man prevails – just.
I see him building an early lead on the judges’ scorecards before his body attack starts to get its rewards, eventually resulting in a close points win.
Let me know your prediction on Twitter @MarcDeanie.