By Miguel Maravilla
Undefeated WBA featherweight champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) is set for his rematch with former three-division world champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) on January 28th at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas live on Showtime.
“This is a big fight. Obviously the first fight was a great fight. I was very happy Leo gave me a chance to fight for the title. There was a rematch clause in the contract, but if there wasn’t I would have been happy to give him the rematch,” Carl Frampton told Fightnews.com®. “I am a man of my word. These are the fights I want to be a part of and I enjoyed every part of it. I will do whatever I can to make sure I come out on top again.”
Frampton defeated Santa Cruz this past summer in what was a battle between two undefeated featherweights at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Going toe-to-toe, Frampton pulled away to a unanimous decision, handing Leo Santa Cruz his first professional defeat.
“I thought I won and many say it was controversial but I don’t think it was controversial at all. I won the fight by three or four rounds but a lot of rounds were close. It was a competitive fight but I feel I was doing more to get the nod,” Frampton on the last fight. “If this fight were to happen 50 times, you would get 50 good fights. I think our styles gel really well.”
The thrill of victory was somewhat overshadowed by speculation of Leo Santa Cruz not being fully focused during training as his father and trainer Jose Santa Cruz was diagnosed with cancer prior to the camp.
“I know the last camp he had trouble with his dad, maybe he wasn’t focused. I am expecting and preparing for a better Leo Santa Cruz,” Frampton said.
Despite all that, the win was a big victory for Frampton in what was definitely a fight of the year candidate.
“It was a huge win. I had a lot of support and picked up a lot of new fans on the East Coast,” Frampton said.
Even though Frampton traveled from Belfast to New York it was obvious that the home turf advantage belonged to the Irish star as the Barclays Center was a pro-Frampton crowd filled with massive chants and the waving of Irish flags. This time it will be Frampton that will go into hostile territory as he will be heading west to the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas.
“Leo is closer to home. You can drive from LA to Vegas but I am bringing people from the UK and Ireland. I am hoping the East Coast fans come and support. I am expecting to bring at least 4,000 fans to Vegas,” Frampton said. “He is talking about bringing the third fight in Belfast if he wins this fight but it’s my job to make it 2-0 and move on.”
With the rematch set in Sin City, many ask the question: If the first fight was in New York, why is the rematch in Vegas? Shouldn’t the champ have priority? There was a rematch clause and Santa Cruz chose to exercise his right.
“The timing for the rematch wasn’t there to fight in Belfast. The indoor arena holds about 9,000 but it wouldn’t be enough for this fight. The next option would be an outdoor stadium. It’s a bit cold to fight outdoors in January in Ireland,” Frampton explained.
The “Jackal” is confident that the second time around there will be another victory over the Mexican fighter.
“When I spar or fight people. I feel that I do better the second time and adapt. Kiko Martinez, I fought him twice. The first time it was a tough fight and I stopped him. In the second fight I won on points because I learned from the first fight,” Frampton explained.
“This time it will be the same. I know everything about Leo, he fights the same way every time and throws a lot of shots. He is tough and very resilient but I know more about him that will make the difference.
Frampton vs. Santa Cruz II will be a scheduled 12 round championship bout for Frampton’s WBA featherweight title as Frampton looks to retain his title and start off where he left off the last time he got in the ring.
“This is going to be a good fight no doubt about it,” Frampton promised.
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