Keep your word and fight me in Belfast: Carl Frampton tells Leo Santa Cruz
Great rivals Carl Frampton and WBA World featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz are being lined up for a third blockbuster showdown at Windsor Park in June.
After suffering the first defeat of his professional career at the hands of Santa Cruz in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, former champion Frampton has called on the Mexican to honour his word and come to Belfast for the completion of an incredible trilogy.
Frampton's manager Barry McGuigan says he has already spoken to Al Haymon, the American adviser of both fighters and is confident that a deal can be struck on the back of another epic duel between the two gladiators.
"I had a discussion with Al. They have given us their word - there is going to be a third fight," said McGuigan, who watched Frampton lose on a majority points decision, with one judge having it a draw and the other two giving it to the Mexican.
"If you are honest man, you don't even need a contract. He's told us he will come to Belfast. He's told us he will fight him again and we've got to trust him."
McGuigan continued: “Carl will have a nice break and then we’d like to organise it right away. We’d love to do it in June in the football ground. I mentioned the possibility of Ravenhill, but Carl said no, he wants to box at Windsor Park.
“We want the third fight right away. Santa Cruz did say there were other options and that concerns me slightly. It would be ideal to have a third fight, but if it doesn’t happen there are loads of options out there.”
Frampton is now coming to terms with the loss of his WBA World featherweight title but still managed some levity amid the pain of defeat. “I hope Leo keeps his word and comes to Belfast to fight — and if he wants he can stay in my house,” quipped the beaten Belfast man, whose fans chanted his name right through to the early hours of Sunday morning.
While many of the rounds were very tight, the Jackal felt that on this night Santa Cruz had the edge but is eager to have a third encounter immediately.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed, Leo and I have had 24 rounds with each other and everyone of them has been competitive. But if there’s any positive out of this, we have to get a trilogy, it has to happen again.
“Hand on heart, I thought that Leo deserved the win. I thought I was doing well in some rounds but Leo used his experience and stole them at the end. He deserved to have his hand raised so congratulations to him.
“Leo has said that he would come to Belfast for a third fight and I hope that he’s a man of his word and after that I would be happy to go to LA, who knows this rivalry could be three, four or five fights.”
Santa Cruz is adamant that he is willing to face Frampton in Belfast for what would be one of the greatest sporting spectacles to come to Northern Ireland.
“I’m a man of my word — a true champion will go anywhere. I know the crowd will be for him over there but I’m willing to go there,” said Santa Cruz.
“I would like to give Frampton the third fight and if the managers come to agreement then let’s do it but I also want to give the rematch to Abner Mares and also maybe a fight with Lee Selby the IBF champion. I want to fight the best. Whatever comes I’ll be ready for it.”