Carl Frampton says he is prepared to do it the hard way in order to bring the WBC World super-bantamweight title back to Northern Ireland.
On the back of his second round knockout victory over Mexican Hugo Cazares last night in the Odyssey Arena, Frampton will now look ahead to a blockbuster showdown with Leo Santa Cruz, probably in August or September.
The 27-year-old would naturally love to have home advantage for the biggest fight of his lie, but American television giant Showtime agree with Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan that it is “the most exciting fight in the super-bantamweight division” and so bringing it to Belfast will be very difficult.
Manager McGuigan hasn’t ruled out Ravenhill as a possible venue or the contest, but Frampton is adamant that wherever he faces Santa Cruz he will be victorious.
“I could have easier routes to a world title, but Scott Quigg and Kiko Martinez didn’t want to fight me so we went down this route and now I’ve got the fight with Santa Cruz and I don’t care where they want it,” said Frampton.
“When I beat Santa Cruz I will have worldwide recognition.
“Santa Cruz is hyped a lot by Golden Boy and he's always on Floyd Mayweather or Saul Alvarez undercards... he's a big fighter and to beat him, maybe knock him out, then I would take over from him.
“Of course I would prefer the fight at home, but if I have to go to the States I’m not worried.
“I want to be a world champion and I’ll do whatever it takes to fulfil my dream of being a world champion.”
The Belfast man dismissed any suggestion by Cazares that he misread the count of Scottish referee Victor Loughlin when sitting on one knee after being felled by Frampton’s blistering left hand in the second round.
“He can say he misread it all he wants, but he couldn’t get up,” added Frampton.
“You can see that he was hurt. I’ve shown again the power that I have.
“He was a more experienced fighter than me, but I said this is my time and I showed that.
“I can punch hard with either hand, I’m the hardest punching super-bantamweight in the world.
“Santa Cruz is going to be even tougher than this guy, but I know that I am ready for that. The fight is coming at the right time for me.”
A crowd of 9,000 roared Frampton to victory and the noise inside the Odyssey Arena was deafening when Loughlin confirmed Frampton as the winner.
A bigger venue will be needed for the contest with Santa Cruz — the refurbished Ravenhill now holds 18,000 for rugby and would bring in an even bigger crowd for boxing — and although Frampton is happy to travel to the USA for the fight, he would dearly love to give his ever-growing and increasingly passionate band of fans another big show.
“Once again the fans were terrific, they’re the best fans in the world and that’s why I would love to bring them a world title fight,” said Frampton.
“I chose the song ‘You’re love keeps lifting me higher’ for my ring entrance especially for them, because that is what they do.
“They inspire me to go on and give performances like that.”
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