Frampton v Santa Cruz: Leo won't fool us with his talk of new tactics, says Barry McGuigan
Barry McGuigan insists he is not going to be fooled into thinking that Leo Santa Cruz will try anything other than to steamroller his way to revenge over Carl Frampton in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas.
Santa Cruz and his team have suggested that the challenger will seek to box from distance rather than engage in another war of attrition as in the first fight with Frampton but McGuigan is not buying it.
Frampton's manager has been overseeing preparations for the past four weeks in Vegas as the WBA World featherweight champion has been honing himself for the first defence of the title against the man from whom he took it six months ago in New York.
McGuigan has liked what he has seen in the work Frampton has put in during a 15-week camp at his London base and then the Shawn Porter gym here in Vegas, believing he will be more than ready for El Terremoto's onslaught.
"Santa Cruz has talked about boxing more from distance with his long reach but that is just a smokescreen. We know that when the bell goes he will come straight at Carl applying pressure constantly. It's nonsense to think he will stand off," said McGuigan.
"It's going to make for another close fight and as Santa Cruz commits he could leave himself open and I know that Carl has the power to take him out.
"In the first fight I thought Carl won it clearly but they have been saying that he wasn't at his best and that he was confused in the corner about the tactics that his brother wanted him to use and those that his dad wanted but look, when you're an elite fighter you don't need to be told what to do tactically - you know that you have to adapt."
While McGuigan was confident that Frampton was on course for victory heading into the last round in Brooklyn's Barclays Centre last July, he admitted that his emotions were running higher than ever and that he called for a little divine intervention.
"I am always on edge when Carl fights, you live through your fighter vicariously and when it came to the point before he went out for the 12th round I said a prayer, just asking that he would go flat out and be strong because I knew that it was imperative that Carl win that last round and he did," added McGuigan, who knows the 4,000 supporters who have travelled out to Vegas are reveling in the Jackal's journey as much as he is.
"This is special for the fans. Whether it's boxing, football or whatever, it's great for people to get behind an athlete and go on that journey with him and this kid is special and I've said it from the start," he said.
"The first time I saw him was at the European Union championships at the National Stadium in Dublin and after watching him in the semi-final I immediately went down to the dressing room and asked 'who's that kid?' When I heard he was from Belfast I was very excited and asked for him to come out so I could have a word with him and I told him right away he would make a great pro."
McGuigan is expecting another exciting duel, the first clash he insists cementing the Jackal's status as Fighter of the Year.
"To be seen as the top fighter in any year you need the right dance partner. Carl boxed the ears off Scott Quigg in their super-bantamweight title unification fight and broke his jaw and if Quigg had been brave and had a go more, he would have been knocked out," he said.
"But the ideal dance partner for Carl is Santa Cruz and the way they fought and how Carl won was the reason he was made fighter of the year and it was nice for him to be presented with the Ring magazine award before this fight."