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Frampton v Santa Cruz: Fans forking out small fortune to see their man Carl in Las Vegas

By David Kelly

Carl Frampton's legion of supporters are making their voices heard in the MGM Grand hotel, having made great financial sacrifices to make it to Las Vegas to back their hero in his big fight against Mexican rival Leo Santa Cruz.

For Belfast couple Martin and Lauren Giles it meant leaving behind their year-old baby, as well as well forking out £2,000 for flights, hotel and tickets.

"We've been to most of his home fights but we had to come to this... it's Vegas and round two with Santa Cruz," Martin said.

"We couldn't go to New York for the first fight because we had our baby last year. Thankfully aunties and grannies have stepped up and are looking after the wee one and we're very thankful to them.

"Everyone chipped in to get us out here so we owe quite a few presents to people.

"For me the great thing is the way Carl brings the community together - it's just brilliant to see so many people from both sides of the community supporting him.

"He's a young lad who's down to earth, he's the same genuine guy from Tigers Bay and everyone loves him."

Frampton super-fan Jonny Chambers (40) admits he was "gutted" at having to miss the first Santa Cruz fight in Brooklyn last summer and is now relishing watching the re-match in Vegas.

"I had gone to the Euro finals to support Northern Ireland, so there was no money left after that. But I had to be here, so Christmas was cancelled and some of my nieces and nephews didn't get any presents. It's probably cost £1,000 before I spend anything," said Jonny who manages a local Spar in Groomsport.

"It's a family business, so my dad Alan, who was an Ulster Unionist MLA, has the time to look after the shop because he's unemployed now with everything that's going on!

"I was out in El Paso for Carl's fight against Alejandro Gonzalez and it was a lot quieter than this - it's amazing that he's gone from there in three fights to headlining in the MGM, it's remarkable... I've seen on Facebook there's people coming from Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia to the fight."

Newtownabbey mates Chris Boyd and Jordan Swain are also enjoying the first time in Vegas and the sense of a once in a lifetime occasion.

"We jumped at the chance to come here once the fight was announced. Whatever it took, we were going to be here and it cost around £800 each. Carl's just a special guy and the way he handles the pressure is amazing. I'd be crumbling - I'm crumbling even now and I'm just here to support him. The place is going to be buzzing with Northern Ireland supporters."

Chris McIlmurray, here with his wife and friends, summed up very nicely the broad appeal of the Jackal. "Even people who are not sports fans love Carl Frampton - even my mum, who wouldn't know Floyd Mayweather from the next man, is getting up to watch the fight. I think my missus is only here to see Shane McGuigan."

Spare a thought though for engaged couple David Strirrup and Gail Graham, who had booked their holiday before they realised Frampton was headlining at the MGM. "We go home the night he fights, it's a nightmare.

"If we'd have known of course we would have gone, but we'll enjoy the atmosphere of the build-up," said David.

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