Frampton's team still believe they can tempt Santa Cruz to Belfast
Carl Frampton's third fight with Leo Santa Cruz is still a real possibility according to Head of Boxing at Cyclone Promotions Jake McGuigan - despite the Mexican suggesting he would fear being "robbed" of his title in Belfast.
Despite on numerous occasions insisting he would come to Frampton's home city to face the Jackal at Windsor Park, WBA World featherweight champion Santa Cruz surprisingly stated that he was set to turn his back on a showdown in Belfast.
Santa Cruz won back the WBA 9st crown from Frampton in Las Vegas last month, six months after the Belfast man had won their first thrilling encounter.
Immediately afterwards Santa Cruz made it clear he would travel to Belfast to meet Frampton in a battle which would complete a scintillating trilogy.
But he commented: "My dad is scared that if I go over there, and even if I beat Carl Frampton, the people and the judges are going to be an influence. It's very important, he's my father, he's been there my whole life, my whole career. I always listen to my dad. If he says no, I wouldn't go there. I do whatever he tells me to do.
"My dad says not to go over there, because going over there would be a really bad decision and, you know, he is right and everything. No matter if I beat him, he thinks that even if I beat him I'll have the victory taken away from me."
However, McGuigan - a key negotiator in Frampton's big fights - believes Santa Cruz can still be persuaded to come to Belfast this summer.
"I've seen what Santa Cruz has had to say about not wanting to fight in Belfast, nothing surprises me in boxing. Those thoughts are clearly influenced by his father but nothing is deterring us from continuing to negotiate a deal for Santa Cruz to face Carl in the summer in Belfast," said McGuigan.
“Any negotiations that we have had so far with Santa Cruz’s adviser Al Haymon have been positive and we don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t still be the case, despite what Santa Cruz has said.
“We are working very hard to make coming to Belfast at an outdoor venue on pay-per-view the most lucrative deal for Santa Cruz in a third fight with Carl.
“That may well be the case which is something that Santa Cruz will have to weigh up and of course he had said all along that he would happily come to Carl’s home town to fight him so I hope he honours those comments.”
Frampton has made it clear that whoever he faces next, the stage has to be in Belfast and Windsor Park is his perferred option.
In response to the comments from Santa Cruz about the influence of his father on his decisions, two-weight world champion Frampton cheekily tweeted: “My da used to say ‘don’t eat too many sweets or your teeth will fall out’. But I ate them anyway.”
Frampton believes that Santa Cruz needs to honour his word about coming to Belfast for the third encounter.
“Leo is a great guy, the two of us have shown each other respect in two great fights but I feel he will lose some respect if he doesn’t honour his word and fight me in Belfast this summer,” said Frampton.
“I’ve fought Leo twice now in the States. New York for the first fight was a neutral venue but Las Vegas was not a neutral venue, you can drive from Los Angeles to it and he had plenty of Mexican support. That’s what champions do sometimes, they travel so now it’s Leo’s turn to travel.”
Meanwhile, it looks likely that Belfast man Marco McCullough will challenge Ryan Walsh for the British featherweight title on May 6 at the CopperBox Arena in London.
Sheffield’s Kell Brook will have home advantage when he defends his IBF welterweight title on May 20 against slick mandatory challenger Errol Spence in what could prove to be one of the fights of the year.