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Hero Frampton set to rake in 10 million fortune but won't forsake Northern Ireland for even bigger riches

Two-weight World champion Carl Frampton has vowed not to abandon Belfast for the United States after registering a victory that could help him become "the greatest Irish fighter there's ever been".

The former super-bantamweight champion claimed the WBA featherweight belt in the early hours of yesterday morning by outclassing holder Leo Santa Cruz to win a majority verdict at New York's Barclays Centre.

That made him the first Northern Irishman to claim a World title in two divisions, crowning the 29-year-old as a star name of the sport and one of his country's most decorated athletes.

More: Santa Cruz couldn't cope with Carl Frampton's expert timing, speed and precision footwork

His manager Barry McGuigan won the same belt 31 years ago and did not hold back in his assessment of Frampton's status.

"I genuinely believe this kid will go on to be the greatest Irish fighter there's ever been," he said.

"Tonight was the greatest night of his life. It was a spectacular performance."

A badly bruised Frampton, on his first outing at 126lb, beamed with pride after winning 116-112 and 117-111 on two of the judges cards and drawing the other.

"I don't know if it's sunk in... that's going to be a fight that defines part of my career," he said.

"I've just made history. I've beaten an unbelievable fighter in Leo Santa Cruz - a three-weight World champion - and it was the toughest fight of my career.

"I made it a bit harder than I needed to at times, I fought with my heart rather than my head at times, but I wanted to be involved in one of those fights and I think people will remember that for a very long time.

"I want to fight here in America but I want to fight at home," said Frampton, as rematch calls were made by both camps and promoter Lou DiBella.

More: Watch: Carl Frampton celebrates world title win with fans in New York

"I want to fight in Belfast at least once a year. I love New York though and the East Coast is very appealing to me. I love the whole experience of boxing here but I'm a Belfast boy. I don't want my fans having to spend so much money all the time.

"I just want to be involved in big, memorable fights against top-class guys. Real fighters fight - and that's what I want to do. (IBF featherweight champion Lee) Selby's a big name, Santa Cruz is a big name, (WBC champion) Gary Russell Jr is a big name.

"I'd love to bring Santa Cruz over to Belfast and you could sell out a stadium there. Windsor Park would be perfect.

"I've beaten a three-weight World champ. This was the toughest fight of my career. It felt like an exciting fight. I felt I'd done enough but one judge had it a bit wider than it should have been. People will remember that for a very long time.

"I want to thank everyone who travelled. The support helps, people have paid a lot of money to get here, especially after the Euros. The noise was great.

More: Carl Frampton a working-class hero who's transcended sectarian barriers

"I think this win means I don't have to buy a pint for 20 years."

Asked if he was now the poster boy for Irish combat sports Frampton deferred to UFC fighter Conor McGregor but aimed a playful comment in Tyson Fury's direction. He said: "I'm up there, but it's hard to surpass Conor McGregor, he's a pretty big name. Tyson Fury? Is he Irish or English? He supported England at the Euros."

Belfast Telegraph

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