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Still much to come at the highest level from proud warrior Carl Frampton

By David Kelly

Renowned magician David Copperfield will shortly perform at the MGM Grand hotel but even he couldn't have conjured a spell to match the manner in which Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz captivated fans just a short walk down the hallway.

The 10,000 fans were virtually split down the middle in terms of who they were backing but all were unified in their admiration for another 12 rounds of heroic action from both men.

The quality might not quite have been at the level of their first clash six months ago but for a sheer 'no guts, no glory' spectacle this was up with the best we are likely to see anywhere else for the rest of 2017.

The spoils of victory would go to Santa Cruz on a majority points verdict and no one was going to argue with that - especially not the vanquished champion, who walked tall in defeat.

While others who have had to walk the same path of narrow loss have done so with a sense of bitterness, spewing forth vitriol at officials and anyone else who would care to listen, on this night Frampton was the personification of grace under fire.

Such were the many close rounds - with the master scorecard revealing divided opinion - Frampton could have felt aggrieved, believing as many defending champions do that they should be given the nod in a close duel.

But that is not the way of the Jackal. It never has been. The genuine article in everything he does, he wasn't going to don sheep's clothing and bleat but rather face up to the reality that he had not performed to his maximum.

Along with manager Barry McGuigan and coach Shane McGuigan, he will reflect on why his dancing feet all too often seemed to be caught in treacle and how at times he allowed himself to be outworked.

It's easy to analyse to the point of paralysis and as top pundit and fighter Paulie Malignaggi pointed out in the lead up to Frampton's rematch with his Mexican rival, "You know sometimes as fighters we are sharper on some nights compared to others".

One thing is certain, there are not going to be any empty excuses flowing from Frampton who will nevertheless be burning up inside with the sense of a missed opportunity to truly shine on his debut in Las Vegas.

Thirty one years ago his manager suffered the same fate, losing the WBA featherweight title to a man called Cruz in Sin City and it was the beginning of the end for McGuigan's story, which had also captured the public's imagination.

The same will not be the case for Frampton. There is still much more to come from this proud warrior, further passionate nights of fistic endeavour at the highest level and at least one more rumble with Santa Cruz.

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