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Carl Frampton playing down talk of Santa Cruz 'trilogy'

By David Kelly

Carl Frampton says he is in the mood to crush any thoughts of a trilogy with Mexican hard man Leo Santa Cruz.

WBA World featherweight champion Frampton and Santa Cruz meet for a second time in the early hours of Sunday morning at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas and there has been talk of a third clash should Northern Ireland's little dynamo not return with his belt.

Santa Cruz was left stunned last summer when dethroned by the Jackal in Brooklyn's Barclays Centre in one of the best fights of 2016 and the Mexican has subsequently spoken about a trilogy of fights to go down in history.

But Frampton insists: "If it's two wins to nil for me, I'd rather move on and fight someone like Lee Selby, the IBF featherweight champion.

Frampton continued: “I genuinely feel like I’m getting better and I think Leo’s going to be in for a tough night if I can do what I’ve been doing here in the gym, perform like I’ve been performing in sparring, hurting sparring partners, knocking sparring partners out.

“I’m hungry to prove that this wasn’t a fluke — I see some people talking on the internet that I got lucky last time or that Leo would have won with his father in camp the whole time.

“But I believe there is a lot more to come for me. I’ve been performing better this camp than ever before. I think I’ll win this fight more convincingly.

“I got drawn in to Leo’s type of fight the last time, which made it very exciting. Because of our styles, it’s always going to be a good fight.

“Leo’s a real warrior, non-stop, and he just tries to overwhelm opponents. And his style works against a lot of people. It could work against lesser opponents, but I’ve got something different. I’ve got a lot of grit and determination, and I can give it back as good as it’s dished out to me.”

Frampton’s belief that he can make it an even more painful night for Santa Cruz than it was in New York six months ago was bolstered even further when he finished off his sparring with gym-mate and Commonwealth super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor, who is also on the bill at the MGM Grand.

“It was very competitive with Josh, we did seven rounds and I came out thinking this guy is world class and way better than Santa Cruz and it had gone so well. I was trying new things, some of the adjustments that we have been making for this fight and it was great,” said the Jackal.

“A win over Santa Cruz will cement the reason why I was chosen as the Fighter of the Year by Ring magazine, that it was fully deserved and I believe that the public will look at my performance and see a guy who is getting better and better.”

If Frampton is successful against Santa Cruz then a meeting with Selby is likely, if the Welshman overcomes mandatory challenger Jonathan Barros this Saturday on the undercard in Las Vegas.

The IBF champion admits he would be willing to travel to Northern Ireland for a possible clash at Windsor Park.

“The fight will be huge and I would love it at the Millennium Stadium but obviously Carl will want to have it in Belfast so we’ll see,” said Selby.

“Scott Quigg’s another fight I’d be interested in but I’m just looking to get this one out of the way first and then it’s up to my management to decide my next fight.

“I really think this one on Saturday will be my toughest fight yet. He’s an experienced fighter so I expect it to be a tricky fight.

“I’ve had a strong training camp and I am 100 per cent focused on putting on a show for the American fans and the travelling fans.”

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