I'll fight Carl Frampton in Belfast, vows Leo Santa Cruz
WBC World champion Leo Santa Cruz has blown away any doubts that he is ready and willing to defend against Northern Ireland hero Carl Frampton in his next title defence – and in the Belfast man's home city.
Santa Cruz must first deal with the threat of Cristian Mijares in the latest defence of his World title this evening in Las Vegas, which is being screened live on BoxNation. Then he wants a showdown with Frampton – assuming the Jackal defeats WBC number contender Hugo Cazares on April 4 at the Odyssey Arena.
"Carl's been saying he wants to fight me. He's a great fighter, undefeated, he comes forward like me and throws parallel punches and pressures a lot, so I think it would make a really great fight for the fans," said Santa Cruz.
"He's in an eliminator to fight me in his fight, so if our managers can work out something I think it can definitely happen next if we both win.
"It doesn't matter to me where I fight him. It's up to wherever my manager and promoter think the best place is. I'll fight him wherever. If they want me to fight him in Ireland, I'll come over and fight him in Ireland. If they want me to fight him here [United States], I'll fight him here. Wherever they make the fight I'm willing to battle him.
"I come forward; he comes forward, so there will be no running. I think it will be a fight where we are both in the middle of the ring, giving a war and I think neither of us is going to want to go back. It could be the fight of the year. I don't think the fight would go the distance.
"I think Frampton (below) comes forward well, and is strong, always pressuring. But I think he drops his hands too much – I think that's one of the mistakes he does. I could catch him or I could work the body and finish him right there.
"I think the fight is likely for between September and November.
"After this fight against Mijares I'll take a little break because it's a big fight, so we have to have a little more time to get ready for it."
Santa Cruz is confident that Frampton will come through against two-weight world champion Cazares.
He added: "I think Cazares is a great boxer, he's got good movement but he's not that strong. I think Frampton is a little stronger and more aggressive so I think that will be to his advantage and will help him win."
Then Santa Cruz wants Frampton before showdowns with WBA champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and IBF champion Kiko Martinez.
"I would like to unify the division and get another belt against either Guillermo Rigondeaux or Kiko Martinez."
Undefeated Frampton expects champion Santa Cruz to remain on course for their title clash.
Frampton said: "I've seen a few of his more recent fights. He moves well and knows how to use all of the ring. Like a lot of the top Mexicans such as Barrera, Morales and Marquez, Mijares' punches are really long and it's the shots with length and distance which knock opponents out.
"It's possible that he might win a few early rounds against Santa Cruz but I think that eventually his legs will slow him down.
"At 25, Santa Cruz will prove too young, too fit, too strong and too aggressive. I expect him to force a stoppage win somewhere around the eighth."