Wednesday 19 December 2018

Frampton's Windsor rematch call

Carl Frampton in action against Leo Santa Cruz during the WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Pic: Sportsfile
Carl Frampton in action against Leo Santa Cruz during the WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Pic: Sportsfile

A summer rematch in Belfast's Windsor Park between new WBA World featherweight title holder Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton remains the Belfast boxer's best chance of reclaiming the belt after his majority loss in Las Vegas in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The second installment of the duel between two of the best nine-stones fighters in the world was a different style contest to their first encounter in July last year and, of course, produced a different outcome after another enthralling 12 rounds.

Against all expectations Leo Santa Cruz conquered his natural attacking instincts and declined to turn the fight into a brawl.

Instead he adopted a measured approach using his superior height and reach to punish a slightly below par Frampton with his accurate jab.

Still it was a close-run affair with one judge scoring it a 114 draw with the other two gave the nod to the former champion 115-11.

Effectively Santa Cruz - who is trained by his father - won seven rounds with five going to Frampton who was under pressure from virtually the first bell. But it was his loss of three of the final four rounds which sealed is fate


Apart from surrendering his belt it was also Frampton's first defeat in the professional ranks.

The only consolation was that he picked up a reported one million dollars as his share of the purse, though the attendance was a slightly disappointing 10,085.

But even before the fighters left the ring the talk had already moved to the possibility a third fight between the pair. While magnanimous in defeat, Frampton asked Santa Cruz to fulfill his promise to come to Belfast for the next leg of their battle.

"Leo and I have had 24 rounds of each other now and they all have been pretty competitive rounds. It's one all now and if I can look for anything positive out of this we have to make it a trilogy.

"It has to happen again. Leo is a tremendous fighter; he surprised me today with his tactics. I honestly didn't think he could box like he did; he was on the back foot a lot. If I being honest, hand on heart Leo deserved to win.

"I came back in a couple of rounds. They were close and I thought I was doing pretty well but Leo used his experience and stole them in the end with bursts in the last 15 seconds and I believe he deserved to have his hand raised.

"So congratulations to the new champion but hopefully we can do it again. I've came to the States twice now and Leo has said he will do it a third time in Belfast and hopefully he is a man of his word," said Frampton who joked that Santa Cruz could stay in his house if he agreed to fight him in his home town.

"I am a man of my word and if they come to a agreement I will be happy to make the third fight but there are other options out there. A true champion will go anywhere because it will only be me and Carl Frampton in the ring.

"I know the crowd would be up for him and it would be very hard for me if we meet but I am willing to go there," said Santa Cruz.

But Cruz's comment about exploring other options concerned Frampton's manager and mentor Barry McGuigan.

"They have to be honourable but I don't like the fact that he said that there are other great fights out there. It would be ideal to have a third fight. But if it doesn't happen there are loads of options out there for us.

"Frampton lost the decision but he was incredible; he was courageous, but he was just a little sluggish and he wasn't as sharp as normal and that made the difference," said McGuigan.

Meanwhile, Floyd Mayweather Jr who attended the fight fuelled speculation by a possible boxing match against UFC champion Conor McGregor by commenting in a TV interview "Most likely a fight with Conor McGregor will happen".

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