Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |


Carl Frampton aims for late summer homecoming, still wants Santa Cruz

Photo / Esther Lin-SHOWTIME

Four months after Carl Frampton losing a majority decision to Leo Santa Cruz in their rematch, the Belfast native says he’s finally got a target month and place for his ring return.

Frampton (23-1, 14 knockouts), who upset Santa Cruz in their first match last year, which helped earn him THE RING’s 2016 Fighter of the Year award, pressed to try to make the rubber-match with the Southern Californian. However, things haven’t worked out so far.

The Northern Irishman says he won’t wait on this rival (who seems reticent to fighting in Ireland) and will fight at home this summer. Santa Cruz, it appears, will rematch Abner Mares in September in Los Angeles.

“We’re targeting the end of July to the end of August,” Frampton told “No definite date, no definite opponent but I want a big fight. Most importantly, I want it to be at home. I’d like Windsor Park (soccer stadium in Belfast) and if we could fill Windsor Park that would be great, (it would hold) about 23,000 with seats (including) on the pitch.

“I’m expecting news soon, but there’s a lot of politics involved in this game. At the very top it’s a bit harder than people expect to make fights. My objective is to fight at home, my preferred venue of choice is Windsor Park. I’ve stated it many times and I’m confident my team can pull it off.”

With regards who will be across the ring from him in his next outing, Frampton didn’t want to reveal any specifics but stated it’ll be a good name.

“It needs to be, I don’t want to fight mugs anymore,” he said. “There’s no point going backwards, I’ve been involved in some big fights, some big stadium fights, there’s no point taking a backward step. Although I’m coming off a loss, I just feel that it was a bad performance. I still have a lot to give and I believe on my day I can beat any featherweight in the world.”

The fight the 30-year-old former two-weight titleholder craves is a third go around with Santa Cruz.

“It’s the one I want,” he stated. “It’s the one I want until my career’s over, until it happens, it’s 1-1, it would be such a shame if it never happened. We want the fight, everyone knows that, but Santa Cruz isn’t playing ball at the moment.

“We’ll move on and look somewhere else and I may have to travel again back to America for that, which I’m willing to do. I’d prefer it to be in the U.K. or Ireland. I might have to travel. I traveled before and beat him in New York and he beat me in Las Vegas. If I have to go to America, I’ll do it again.”

Frampton was the favorite to score a repeat win over Santa Cruz in January. However, the Mexican-American surprised everyone, including Frampton, by electing to box rather than press the action.

“I didn’t think he could fight like that,” he admitted. “I thought he was gonna come head first. I just didn’t expect it and after a bad first few rounds I was kind of chasing the fight and that’s not my game. I was kind of caught in the middle of two styles, trying to fight and trying to box and that was it, just a bad performance.

“These things happen but you know watching back on TV – it took me awhile to watch it – but when I finally got around to watching it, it was actually closer on TV than I had it in my head. I thought I lost pretty comfortably on the night but watching it back on TV, I still thought I lost the fight, but I had it a little bit closer than I did on the night.”

Last Friday, Frampton was sat beside domestic featherweight rival while working for British terrestrial TV Channel 5. Selby currently holds the IBF title and is also seeking a bigger fight.

Frampton-Selby would appear a natural fight and it’s one both are interested in.

“That’s a fight I would love but again my next fight has to be at home,” he said. “I think the Sanigars and the McGuigans have been talking. Lee said something about when the Sanigars call the McGuigans nobody picks up the phone but I don’t think people are telling him, feeding him back information because I know there has been on-going negotiations.”

When asked what was said between them at ringside Frampton said, “He asked me ‘Are we going to get this fight on?’ and I said ‘I’d love the fight. My next fights in Belfast, if you want to come you can come’ but obviously there’s a bit more to it than that, the money needs to be right for everyone. Lee is a world champion, he has an IBF title, but to be honest, in this fight, I’m the bigger name. He needs to remember that and I sell more tickets and that’s a big thing in boxing.”

Over the coming weeks both men’s plans will be come clearer. It appears highly unlikely, Frampton and Selby will fight next but both men want it and it would seem possible for later in the year.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright


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