Frampton steps up to face Santa Cruz for featherweight crown, Garcia makes awaited return
Lee Gormley | July 25, 2016
Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz
- WBA Super featherweight title fight
- Sunday, July 31st
- Scheduled for: 04:30 BST
- Barclays Center, New York City
- Live on BoxNation
Frampton faces Santa Cruz in New York
After outpointing Scott Quigg to become unified super-bantamweight kingpin, Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton embarks on a mission to become a two-weight world champion as he challenges WBA Super featherweight title holder Leo Santa Cruz in his second American outing.
The Belfast-born fighter vacated the 122lbs straps he had previously held in order to make an assault on the featherweight division, with a proven Mexican champion standing in his way at the Barclays Center in New York this weekend.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) will attempt to clinch the WBA title from Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs), the belt which his long-standing mentor Barry McGuigan held between 1985 and 1986.
Now, three decades on, ‘the Jackal’ is 11/8 with Coral to reign supreme for a second time on American soil and become a two-weight world champion, though he faces a tough test against a fellow undefeated fighter.
Frampton believes it’s his destiny to triumph
Frampton’s mentor McGuigan claimed the WBA featherweight belt from long-reigning champion Eusebio Pedroza, before eventually losing to American Steve Cruz in Las Vegas, and this weekend’s contender believes it’s destiny for him to win that same strap.
“Leo is a world class fighter who believes he’s going to win, but I’m a world class fighter and I believe I will win,” stated Frampton, who is 3/1 to outpoint Santa Cruz.
“I’ve had big fights back home, but this is a huge fight. Two world-class opponents who both believe they will win.
“It just feels like everything is lining up and destined to happen. It would be great to win back the title that Barry won.”
“I really want to create a legacy…”
The Shane McGuigan trained 29-year-old opted to jump up divisions in search of a historic feat this summer in the United States, having already ruled at super-bantamweight, and he feels the extra weight will only help his power.
“Moving up to 126 pounds was definitely the right decision for me. I’m a big puncher but I lost power coming down to 122 pounds. I’m going to be punching harder and be at my very best,” declared ‘the Jackal’.
“This fight is huge for me because I really want to create a legacy. I know how people talk, and I think people will be talking about this for a very long time. I want people to remember me as a great fighter, that’s all.
“I want to be in exciting fights. From here on in my career, I want to be great. Who better to face than Leo Santa Cruz? This is a chance to put my name down in history and become a two-weight world champion from Ireland.”
Santa Cruz, known as ‘El Terremoto’ in his native homeland, will take to the ring without a single loss on his record either, and the three-weight world champion is 11/8 to overcome his latest challenger on points.
Santa Cruz confident of ousting Frampton
The talented 27-year-old previously reigned as IBF bantamweight and WBC super-bantamweight champion, then stepped up to 126lbs and took his current crown by outpointing compatriot Abner Mares, while he most recently stopped former Frampton victim Kiko Martinez in February.
After that dominant stoppage success over the Spaniard last time out, Santa Cruz is hoping for more of the same against Frampton and is confident of overcoming his Northern Irish opponent before going on to hopefully unifying the division.
“Of course. Even against Carl Frampton, I would have gone over there because once we’re in the ring, it’s only us two and the UK people won’t be able to help him or make a difference,” outlined the Mexican warrior, who is 5/2 to knock out Frampton.
“Hopefully, I get the win against Frampton and then I would like unification bouts with Lee Selby, Gary Russell Jr I don’t care who it is – I just want to unify, but hopefully it will be Selby.
“I’m going to try to knock him out. Hopefully I can land a big right hand and stop him. By the sixth and seventh round, he gets tired and with my pressure, I could stop him in the later rounds.”
The defending champion has unification bouts in his thinking further down the line, but he must first get past a dangerous challenger in Frampton, who is aiming to reign supreme in a second division this weekend in the Big Apple.
Garcia makes awaited comeback on undercard
When two-weight world champion Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs) takes to the ring on the undercard this weekend, the 28-year-old will end an absence of exactly two years, six months and five days away from the sport, after enduring contractual issues.
After a similar frustrating contract situation to that which former super-middleweight king Andre Ward previously suffered through, Garcia is now back and raring to go in his comeback bout against former WBC featherweight king Elio Rojas (23-2, 14 KOs) in a 10-rounder.
The unbeaten American is odds-on 1/33 to make a winning return to the squared-circle, while Rojas is 10/1 to spoil the comeback party with victory in New York, as Garcia looks to pick up where he left off and push towards further success, after being deprived of two years of his career.
Meanwhile, Frampton’s stablemates Conrad Cummings and Josh Taylor will also look for success on United States soil, while former welterweight world champion Paulie Malignaggi is 1/4 to overcome Gabriel Bracero (11/4) in what could be the final fight of his 16-year career.