After an explosive, relentless and fairly even fight in the trenches at the Barclays Center last July, everyone – including both fighters – was desperate for a rematch. Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz meet once again in just over a week’s time, with the MGM Grand providing a fitting setting for what should be another featherweight classic.
The two fighters took questions from the media via conference call earlier this evening, and one thing was certain – both men are ready, and willing, to go to war next weekend. Leo Santa Cruz appears to have the bit between his teeth after losing his WBA Super strap in a close decision last time, and the return of his now-recovered father should provide a monumental boost. The Mexican’s father was undergoing treatment for cancer throughout the buildup to the first bout, and as he told us, all is now okay within the Santa Cruz family. He said:
“The first camp, I didn’t have my dad with me. My dad is the smart one, he’s the one always watching boxing. He’s always watching different boxers and different styles, and he knows how to fight different styles. He’s always pushing me and giving me that bit extra, whether in training or getting me to go out there [on fight night] and give my all.
“This time, me and my dad are going to go with a great game plan and try and beat Frampton. Last time, me and my brother made a game plan, then my dad wanted me to fight a different way. He wasn’t there, so I had trained one thing with my brother, and then when my dad got there, he wanted to go a different way and I got confused. This time, it’s going to go perfectly.
“Last time, I was worrying about his health, how he was doing and whether he was going to be able to go to the fight with me – or even whether he’d wake up tomorrow. Cancer is a very dangerous disease. You could be here with us, then tomorrow you couldn’t. Saying that, his cancer is in complete remission, so he’s doing a lot better and my mind is clear. The only thing on my mind is the fight, and I’m going to go out there and hopefully make it another Fight of the Year.”
Frampton, on the other hand, is coming into this bout on the back of a shower of ‘Fighter of the Year’ accolades, after an outstanding pair of decision wins over Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz respectively. The Belfast man is firmly in the spotlight of the world’s boxing media, but as he put it, it only makes him want to prove himself worthy of all the praise. He told media:
“I have always said since I turned professional that I perform best under pressure. All these awards are doing is filling me with confidence. I want to go out and prove that these awards are justified, and that I deserved to be Fighter of the Year last year. I have to kick off 2017 in style, and I’m going straight in at the deep end again with a rematch against a three-weight world champion. 2017, potentially, is going to be even better than last year.
“Last time it was touted as one of the fights of the year, and I think our styles just gel really well together. I don’t think it’s going to be any different this time, and whatever happens it’s going to be competitive up until it ends. I believe that what I’ve been doing this time in training camp has made me a fully-fledged featherweight now. I’ve developed now – stronger, bigger, punching harder, and I feel like I’m going to get the win.”
As per with the ever-popular Frampton, he paid homage to his travelling support – with thousands making the journey across the pond to watch their man in action next weekend. Frampton said he’s expecting as many as 4,000 of his own support inside the MGM Grand on fight night, though that could well sound like far more given the reputation of British and Irish fight fans travelling abroad. He finished by telling BNTV:
“I think that in the arena, we’re expecting a little bit more than Leo based on ticket sales. That’s a credit to my support really, they’ll travel far and wide to see me, and obviously it’s expensive to get to Las Vegas from Belfast. I’m expecting Leo to have more support in Vegas than New York. Although the atmosphere in New York was incredible, I think it’s going to be even better. There’s potentially 4,000 coming from back home, and 4,000 will sound like 8,000. It’s going to be a ruckus atmosphere, that’s for sure.”
Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz, as well as a stellar undercard which features the brilliant matchup of Dejan Zlaticanin vs. Mikey Garcia, will be live on Sky Sports from the early hours next Sunday morning. Stock up on the coffee, fight fans, this main event may just well be another worth staying up for.