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Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz: Carl facing father of all battles

Santa Cruz inspired by his dad’s fight against illness and vowing to keep title

By David Kelly

Published 29/07/2016

Fighting talk: Carl Frampton talks to press in New York yesterday as Leo Santa Cruz looks on
Fighting talk: Carl Frampton talks to press in New York yesterday as Leo Santa Cruz looks on

Jose Santa Cruz has always been there for his son and even a battle with cancer will not prevent him from being ringside at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn tomorrow night.

Son Leo puts his WBA World title belt on the line against Northern Ireland's hero Carl Frampton in what is expected to be the toughest test so far for both unbeaten World champions.

The Jackal is stepping up to win a world title at featherweight having ruled the super-bantamweight division, while Santa Cruz is aiming to further his claim to be the supreme 9st champion.

Brought up in a tough Los Angeles neighbourhood, his father Jose and mother Eloeia made sure that he remained on the right path, away from the dark elements which were all around. Parent power has paid off and Santa Cruz now lives the life he could only dream about as a young man - financial rewards following his feat of becoming a three weight world champion.

"I grew up in a dangerous neighbourhood, there was a lot of gangs and shooting and everywhere you looked there were homeless people. I wanted to be somebody who could get out of there and live in a good neighbourhood with my family and when I got into boxing I wanted to work hard, become world champion and make some good money," said Santa Cruz.

"I didn't hang out with friends, I went to school and did my homework before going to the gym. My mum and dad gave me confidence to not do drugs but to work hard and follow my dream.

"My dad has done so much for me and this fight will be dedicated to him. When we first heard that he had cancer the first thing you think about is death. We cried a lot when he told us the news.

"Then we had hope that he could beat the cancer and we thank God that he has beaten it. My dad was my coach but my brother had been coming to the gym to learn from him so he has been working with me a lot for this fight.

"It's really important for me that my dad is going to be at the fight. When I was asked about this fight I said I would take the fight as long as my dad is there and dad will be there."

Dad Jose found inspiration for his own personal battle from his son, admitting: "I wanted to be there because I'm the trainer. I'm the support. But I also wanted to be there because I've never missed a fight of Leo's. That gave me the strength to keep pushing."

As for the clash with Frampton, the champion has no doubt he will be victorious.

"Frampton gets caught, he's been dropped and I believe I can stop Frampton. I can hurt him and stay on him and stop him. He has weaknesses that I have seen - I think he gets tired after the sixth round, he gets gassed out," he said.

"I'll break him down, work the body and pressure him. He's never faced anyone like me before.

"I've gotten stronger at this weight so I think that, potentially, I could get him with a right hand or a good body punch and could drop him."

Frampton v Santa Cruz is exclusively live on BoxNation this Saturday night. Buy now at boxnation.com

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