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Frampton confident of stoppage win in Santa Cruz rematch

The pair were in Belfast today ahead of their January showdown.

Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

CARL FRAMPTON CLAIMS he is confident of stopping Leo Santa Cruz when they clash in their WBA world featherweight title rematch in the new year.

The pair met in Belfast this afternoon at a raucous press conference held in front of a crowd of a few hundred Frampton fans at the Europa Hotel as the rivals prepare to renew acquaintances in the ring following their ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate last July.

Frampton (23-0) handed the Mexican (32-1-1) his first defeat at Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre, with the Belfast native becoming a two-weight world champion after a majority-decision win as he followed up his unified super-bantamweight success by picking up the 126lb WBA crown.

The rematch has been booked for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on 28 January, handing Santa Cruz something of a home advantage as the 28-year-old is based on the US west coast.

Frampton had a vocal Irish support in New York for the first fight, with Santa Cruz treated to another taste of Belfast at the Europa today.

“It’s great to have Leo Santa Cruz here and for the people of Belfast to see a three-weight world champion in the flesh and see a great fighter come over to Belfast,” said Frampton on his rival’s visit to the northern city to promote the bout.

“This fight, I believe is going to be pretty similar to the first one — it’s going to be a great fight.

“Our styles gel well together. If me and Leo fight a hundred times it’s always going to be a good fight. I think this one is going to be even better,” continued ‘The Jackal’.

“I believe if I use my brain a bit more in this fight and don’t get dragged into a fight, I can win it more convincingly, but there will be times in this fight when you’ll just have to bite down on your gumshield and fight like you know what — and that’s what I’ll do,” added Frampton, who is confident of an early finish in the rematch.

The 29-year-old wobbled Santa Cruz as early as the second round in their Brooklyn encounter and Frampton respectfully suggested that he can stop the former bantam, super-bantam and featherweight champion.

“Leo’s a tough guy with a solid chin, but I believe if I hit any featherweight or super-featherweight, if I hit them clean I can knock them out,” said the undefeated Frampton.

“That’s no disrespect to Leo Santa Cruz — he’s a warrior — but I hurt him at times in that fight and I believe if I just nail him that little bit cleaner then I could knock him out.”

Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Following their first fight last August, Santa Cruz had suggested that the judges may have been swayed by a strong Irish and Irish-American support for Frampton in the Barclays.

But while Santa Cruz will be closer to his California base for the rematch, the 28-year-old did not talk up the idea of having ‘home’ advantage on fight night.

“Las Vegas is close to my home town, I’ve fought there a lot of times and I feel very comfortable there, but Carl has a lot of fans and I know a lot of people from here are going to fly over there and support him,” said Santa Cruz.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty even crowd, maybe a 50-50 split, so I don’t see it as an advatange.

“It’s closer to my hometown, but other than that I think it’s pretty even,” added the Mexican, who suggested that a Belfast rubber-match is on the cards.

“The second fight is going to be even better. I got my first defeat, but I want to win the rematch and hopefully when I get the win we can make a third fight and we can come here to fight in Belfast,” said the challenger, whose father/trainer, Jose, was diagnosed with cancer in the build-up to the Barclays bout but his illness is now in remission.

Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports in association with Cyclone Promotions and TGB Promotions, are priced from €57-475 and go on sale today (November 29) at 5pm (Irish time). Tickets are available at www.AXS.com. 

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Frampton and Santa Cruz’s first fight was in August 2016; it was in July.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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