There was uproar among British boxing fans when The BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist was announced this week. Why? Because a man that unified the Super Bantamweight division, before stepping up to Featherweight to beat an unbeaten three-weight world champion, was not nominated. Carl Frampton – otherwise known as ‘The Jackal’ – is the hot pick for Fighter of the Year in 2016 due to these achievements, and with the Santa Cruz rematch scheduled in for January 2017, it looks like next year could be another one to remember for Belfast.
The first Santa Cruz-Frampton bout took place in New York on July 30, and turned out to be a classic. Both fighters had their moments, before Frampton prevailed via majority decision after a largely classy display. Now, The Jackal is reaping the rewards. The rematch will be take place at The MGM Grand on January 28, and in excess of 4,000 Northern Irish fans are expected to make the trip across the pond for what could just be another 12-round war. The pair recently met in the second leg of their press tour at Los Angeles, and Frampton told gathered media:
“This rematch with Leo Santa Cruz is going to be an amazing one. The first one was considered a ‘Fight of the Year’ and I don’t think this can be any different. We’re going to kick-off 2017 with a bang. Leo is an amazing fighter and I want to thank him for giving me the chance to fight for his title in July. I was more than happy to give him the rematch straight away. These are the types of fights I want to be involved in.
“I thought I won the first fight. I don’t think it was controversial at all. I think I won the fight by three or four rounds. They were definitely close, competitive rounds, but I think I was doing more to win rounds and get the nod. This one is going to be more of the same. Las Vegas is obviously a bit closer to home for Leo and I’m sure he’ll bring a lot of fans. But I’m bringing at least 4,000 from the UK. Right now I’m the most well-supported fighter in the UK. It’s a great privilege for me.
“When I fight people, I feel like I improve the second time. I have a good boxing brain and I can adapt to different situations. The only person I’ve fought twice as a pro was Kiko Martinez and the second time I fought him I won comfortably. Because I learned from the first fight. I know everything about Leo. He fights the same way every single time. I think our styles just gel really well together. You can expect a great night with a really huge undercard from start to finish.
“I know his training may not have been as focused last time as it could have been because of his father. I expect a better Leo Santa Cruz. But in terms of how he fights, I think he’ll fight the same way. It’s a good way to fight and it’s gotten him far. He usually wears people down, but I have serious punching power and that again could be the difference.
“If you want people to remember you in 20 or 30 years’ time, you need to fight guys like Leo Santa Cruz. We’ve already been working very hard in the gym and we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure I remain the champion and bring the title back home to Ireland.”
Frampton-Santa Cruz 2 is part of an exciting SHOWTIME double-header, with unbeaten Lightweight pair Dejan Zlatacanin and Mikey Garcia also squaring off for the WBC strap. Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports in association with Cyclone Promotions and TGB Promotions, are priced at $504, $404, $304, $204, $104 and $54, and are on sale now. Tickets are available at www.AXS.com.