Carl Frampton meets Leo Santa Cruz in featherweight title rematch

Northern Irishman defends belt at MGM Grand resort in Las Vegas having beaten Mexican-born opponent for the belt by a majority decision last July in New York

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 3:16pm

Two things have changed since Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz staged a thrilling featherweight title fight last July in New York.

Frampton now has the title, while Santa Cruz now has his father’s undivided attention.

Frampton won a majority decision from Santa Cruz in their first fight, one so good the two men decided not to waste any time doing it again.

The fighter from Northern Ireland will be defending the title on Saturday night at the MGM Grand resort, and this time he will be the only undefeated fighter in the ring.

“I’m hungry to prove that this wasn’t a fluke,” Frampton said. “I think I win this fight more convincingly.”

Frampton took the fight to Santa Cruz early, rocking him in the second round and then fending off a determined challenge by Santa Cruz to win a piece of the featherweight belt.

Carl Frampton tops Leo Santa Cruz in New York to take WBA super featherweight title

The win kept Frampton undefeated in 23 fights and gave the late bloomer some respect he hadn’t gotten before in the boxing community.

“Fighting Leo Santa Cruz in the United States, a three-weight world champion who a lot of people thought was going to beat me and beat me comfortably, that was a big deal,” Frampton said. “That was the real turning point of my career. And I think there’s more to come.”

It was the first professional loss for Santa Cruz, a Mexican-born fighter who has lived nearly all his life in Southern California, and came after a camp where his father and trainer, Jose Santa Cruz, was not always available because he was undergoing treatments for myeloma.

The cancer has since gone in remission and the elder Santa Cruz has been back in camp training his son for a rematch he believes will offer a different outcome.

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“My dad is my trainer full-time. He’s always been the one who knows how to point out and correct the mistakes I make in training,” Santa Cruz said. “I think having him full-time will be a big difference. He will push me more.”

Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 knockouts) said he wants to turn the fight into more of a brawl, and break Frampton down with body punches.

He said not having a title for the first time since 2012 also serves as motivation.

“I’m going to fight like this is for my first world title,” he said. “I’m going up there as a nobody and I’m going to go make a name for myself. I’m coming with that kind of hunger.”

In a co-main event on the card, lightweight champion Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs) will meet former two-division champion Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) in a title clash between undefeated fighters.