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Carl Frampton confident ahead of Santa Cruz sequel

Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

They hail from countries that are over 5,000 miles apart but in boxing parlance, Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz are made for each other.

On July 30, Northern Ireland’s Frampton won a hard-fought 12-round majority decision over Santa Cruz at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The contest was a full-contact classic, arguably the fight of the year, and fans all over the world called for an immediate encore.

With the victory, Frampton, who is rated No. 2 by THE RING at 126 pounds, claimed the WBA featherweight title and pound-for-pound recognition with this publication. Out of respect for Santa Cruz, the amiable 29-year-old also promised to honor a rematch clause that appeared in the original contract.

Toward the end of last week, the unbeaten Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) confirmed a deal had been reached via his official Twitter account and today, Showtime Sports issued a press release which revealed a date of Jan. 28, 2017.

“There were a few hitches but I was always confident that the fight was going to get made,” said Frampton when interviewed by

“I feel like I’m an honorable person and (Santa Cruz) gave me a shot. I’m a man of my word and I’ll be looking to go out there and do the business again. I was disappointed with the way the (Scott) Quigg fight panned out. That had the potential to be a good fight but it wasn’t and people want to see blood and guts. They got that with Santa Cruz and to be honest, I enjoyed it even though it was my hardest fight to date.”

One did not get the impression that Santa Cruz enjoyed it. Habitually bulletproof in the ring, the previously unbeaten Mexican star was hurt badly by a left hook in the second round and caught cleanly throughout. Frampton, who was debuting at featherweight, was better than ever and succeeded in making the perpetual punching machine think twice.

Santa Cruz, who is rated No. 4 by THE RING at featherweight, had his moments and, for the most part, engaged forward gears but his attacks lacked imagination and left him vulnerable. Frampton, a beautifully adept technician when he’s at his best, had all the answers and the Belfast man sees only one outcome when the pair collide again early next year.

“I don’t think Santa Cruz can change too much,” revealed Frampton. “He’s had 30-odd fights and it’s been the same style throughout his career. People are saying that he’s going to throw more punches but he threw 1,100 in the last fight and I don’t think he can throw much more. I’m expecting a similar fight but I know everything about him now and I believe I’ll beat him more convincingly.

“I’ll learn from the first fight and put in a better performance. The plan (last time) was to hit him hard from the start and make him respect me. Although he threw a lot of punches, he was throwing them from far out and he didn’t want to get too close. That was because he was getting nailed and hurt when he was coming in. It was important to hurt him early and I think we did that. It’ll be the same plan the next time — hurt him with every shot.”

Despite the fact that Frampton did punch a hole in Santa Cruz’s armor, he was non-committal about scoring a stoppage in the rematch. You can’t blame him. Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) absorbed scores of big blows throughout that fight and after the second round didn’t look close to going down. And anyway, are we really going to complain if we get another 12 rounds of trench warfare?

So, what about the future? Despite unifying WBA and IBF belts at 122 pounds and becoming a two-weight world champion, Frampton still retains plenty of ambition. All going to plan against Santa Cruz, he mentioned WBC featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr., former multi-weight world champion Abner Mares and IBF featherweight beltholder Lee Selby as possible dance partners down the road.

“Lee is a great fighter and that would be huge,” said Frampton, who holds the talented Welshman in very high regard. “I’d like to do that one at Windsor Park (Northern Ireland soccer ground) in Belfast, which has been refurbished. In the summer, why not? But whoever it may be, I only want big fights.

“I hope to get three fights in 2017, so it could be a huge year for me. Santa Cruz in the early part of next year, Windsor Park in the summer and then who knows after that. I won’t have it any other way. I want to be involved in big fights with big names in big venues — that’s what excites me.”

Fight fans are sure to be the beneficiary of that philosophy.


Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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Ring Magazine Dec 2016

You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of RING magazine by clicking the banner or here. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page. On the cover this month: Double Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields. The U.K. Issue featuring cover star Carl Frampton will be available soon.