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US fans 'keen for Carl Frampton to make return Stateside'

By David Kelly

Top promoter Richard Schaefer believes the American public are eager to see Carl Frampton return Stateside for more exciting showdowns.

With the featherweight division now one of the hottest in world boxing and the Belfast man still the biggest box office attraction at 9st.

Schaefer, along with Cyclone Promotions, staged Frampton's rematch with Leo Santa Cruz in January at the MGM Grand, when 4,000 of the Jackal Army made the trip to roar on their hero.

WBA World featherweight champion Santa Cruz triumphed on points and is now looking ahead to another rematch, this time with fellow Mexican Abner Mares in October on a Schaefer show in Los Angeles.

Welshman Lee Selby, the IBF champion, recently retained his title and is viewed as the No.1 target for Frampton, while the WBC champion Gary Russell is rumoured to be pondering a step up to super-featherweight, which would offer the Jackal a shot at the vacant belt as he is ranked the No.1 contender.

For all the exciting duels that can be made, the consensus is that a third clash between Frampton and Santa Cruz is the most mouthwatering.

If Frampton is to once more headline in the USA then he needs to secure victory in his WBC World title eliminator with Mexican Andres Gutierrez this Saturday night in Belfast's SSE Arena and that is far from a foregone conclusion, according to Schaefer, who will be keeping a close eye on the clash from his west coast base.

"I have spoken to the promoter of Andres Gutierrez and I can tell you that they are very confident," said Schaefer, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph.

"They are confident that Gutierrez has not only the heart which you expect from every Mexican fighter but also the skill set to cause an upset in Belfast on Saturday night. This is a huge opportunity for him.

"He's getting the biggest pay-day of his career but that will be nothing compared to the money that he can make if he beats someone of the stature of Carl Frampton.

"He can then go on and have all-Mexican fights with Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares.

"There are multiple opportunities for big fights in the featherweight division at the moment and I've just signed Nonito Donaire, a multiple-weight World champion who has moved up to featherweight, so he's a very exciting fight for anyone.

"But Carl Frampton is one of the biggest names out there and the American public and the American networks will want to see him again.

"He has an exciting style and he's a good guy - with the fights that he has had in the States, he has built up an American fan base."

While Frampton's fans craved a third successive duel with Santa Cruz, Schaefer feels that time will only make their hearts grow fonder for the completion of the exciting trilogy.

"I'm not surprised that the third fight with Leo has not happened and I think that it will just raise the expectation among fans that they have had a break in between the second and third fights," said Schaefer.

"I have seen that there could be an all-British fight between Carl and Lee Selby and if Carl wins it then the fight is even bigger.

"It's a fight that has to happen and I know that Leo wants the fight, no doubt about it.

"If Leo beats Mares then the biggest fight out there in the division is a third fight between him and Carl Frampton.

"Where the fight happens will depend on how much money they can earn. Wherever they can earn the most money, that's where it will take place and if that is in Belfast then the fight can happen there.

"I believe that it will happen next year, it has to - everyone wants to see it."

Meanwhile, Katie Taylor's first professional fight in the US will pit her against American journeywoman Jasmine Clarkson in New York on Saturday.

Dallas-based Clarkson, 22, has lost eight of her 12 professional bouts, although she has never been stopped.

Taylor, the 2012 Olympic champion, has won her first five pro bouts and her promoter Eddie Hearn hopes she will fight for a World title later in 2017.

Taylor, 31, has earned stoppage wins in three of her five bouts.

Saturday's fight at the Barclays Centre will be on the undercard of the super-lightweight non-title contest between Adrien Broner and Mikey Garcia.

Taylor stopped German Nina Meinke in a World title eliminator at Wembley Stadium in her last contest in April.

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