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Carl Frampton had to bounce back off ropes to shine at highest level

By Bernard O'Neill

Published 01/08/2016

Carl Frampton celebrates his win after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in the 12 round WBA Super featherweight championship bout at Barclays Center on July 30, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough in New York City. (Photo by Anthony Geathers/Getty Images)
Carl Frampton celebrates his win after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in the 12 round WBA Super featherweight championship bout at Barclays Center on July 30, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough in New York City. (Photo by Anthony Geathers/Getty Images)
Carl Frampton pictured with the WBA featherweight belt the morning after defeating Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton, right, throws a punch at Leo Santa Cruz during their WBA Super World Featherweight Championship fight at the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Saturday, July 30, 2016. Carl Frampton won via decision. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
Carl Frampton pictured with Rory McIlroy after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton holds up his championship belt after his WBA Super World Featherweight Championship fight against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Saturday, July 30, 2016. Carl Frampton won via decision. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
Carl Frampton after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton pictured with his children Carla and Rossa after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Shane McGuigan celebrates after Carl Frampton defeated Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton pictured with Rory McIlroy after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry .
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Frank Lampard, Rory McIlroy and Michael O'Neill pictured at the Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz bout in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton pictured with Barry McGuigan and Rory McIlroy after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Rory McIlroy with Christine Frampton after Carl Frampton defeated Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton pictured with his daughter Carla after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton pictured with his children Carla and Rossa after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Colin Murray pictured at the Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz bout in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton celebrates after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton, Barry McGuigan and Shane McGuigan after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton and Shane McGuigan celebrate after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton, Barry McGuigan and Shane McGuigan after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Barry McGuigan celebrates after Carl Frampton defeats Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Christine and Frank Lampard pictured at the Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz bout in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Steven Davidson, Rory McIlroy and Michael O'Neill pictured at the Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz bout in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Frank Lampard and Steven Davidson pictured at the Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz bout in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton pictured with his daughter Carla after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest against Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Leo Santa Cruz with Carl Frampton during Saturday nights WBA featherweight title contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NY. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th July 2016 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton's career appeared to be going nowhere fast after he lost three National Elite fights in a row.

The Belfast man stunned Mexico's Leo Santa Cruz to claim the WBA World featherweight title on a majority decision in New York in the early hours of yesterday morning.

However, Frampton, who won his first Irish Elite belt in 2005, looked as if he was going to quit after dropping decisions to TJ Doheny, Ryan Lindberg and Kevin Fennessy in the 2006/07/08 Elite Irish semi-finals at Dublin's National Stadium.

But the new WBA champion, boxing out of the Midland White City BC under coach Billy McKee, bounced back in 2009 to beat Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce in a classic featherweight final.

"You could see the change in him," said multiple Elite champion Eric Donovan. "He had that look of a champion."

Frampton first caught the eye of Barry McGuigan at the 2007 EU Championships at Dublin's National Stadium.

Ken Egan (gold), Roy Sheahan (gold), Darren Sutherland (gold), Frampton (silver) and Cathal McMonagle (silver) finished in podium positions to help Ireland top the medals table. McGuigan, now Frampton's manager, was at ringside.

"This kid (Frampton) in the ring, I like his style," said the former WBA featherweight champion of the future WBA featherweight champion.

Frampton lost the 2007 EU decider to France's Beijing 2008 silver medallist Khedafi Djelkhir, but won the praise of the then Irish head coach Billy Walsh.

"Carl was appearing in the final of his first major international tournament against an experienced opponent who would go on to reach an Olympic final. He performed well," said Walsh.

Young gun: Carl Frampton at the 2009 Irish Elite Championships
Young gun: Carl Frampton at the 2009 Irish Elite Championships

Frampton didn't make the Irish team for the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Chicago in 2007, nor the European qualifiers in Italy and Greece. The two-weight World champion switched codes a few months after beating Joyce in 2009 and stopped Hungarian southpaw Sandor Szinavel on his pro debut in Liverpool.

Belfast Telegraph

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