US venue likely for Carl Frampton world title shot
When Carl Frampton swept away the challenge of Hugo Cazares in less than five minutes at the Odyssey Arena he opened the path to life-changing fights over the next 12 months.
WBC world super-bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz must now put his title on the line against Frampton who has become the mandatory challenger for the title following victory over Cazares in their final eliminator.
While Team Frampton will seek to make a lucrative offer to Golden Boy Promotions to bring the mouth-watering clash to Belfast, it is possible that Santa Cruz's promotional company, along with American television giant Showtime, will look to build up the fight into an even bigger event.
Few would argue that Frampton-Santa Cruz is the most exciting fight in the super-bantamweight division and that is certainly the view of all three major parties – Golden Boy Promotions, Cyclone Promotions and Showtime – going into negotiations in the coming weeks. Consequently, there is money to be made for everyone and naturally all will seek to maximise that potential.
While Frampton has become a major name on this side of the Atlantic, in order to raise his profile even further ahead of a showdown with Santa Cruz it is quite possible that his next outing will be against a top contender Stateside – particularly if the WBC title holder wishes to wait until September or October for a date with the Belfast man.
Manager Barry McGuigan is certainly not going to allow the Frampton freight train to be held up after such another explosive performance on Friday night when he left a two-weight world champion in total disarray.
"If he doesn't fight for the World title early summer then we will look at having another fight in between," said McGuigan.
"Showtime may want to tease the fight and you could have a scenario where they fight on the same bill in the States before facing each other. Fighting in the States is where the big money is at and this business is about big fights and big money," said McGuigan.
"And we know that the American public will love his style, so there are a lot of options."
At most, Frampton will have two more fights this year and whether it is Santa Cruz, or someone else, we can expect to see him back in the ring around the end of June or early July. While his adoring fans would love to see him back fighting in the Odyssey, if it is to be a non-title fight then New York or Las Vegas would seem to be the obvious stage.
But, that all depends upon Santa Cruz and whether or not he wants to go straight into a showdown with the 27-year-old Belfast man – as he has stated in the past.
Certainly that will be uppermost in the minds of Cyclone Promotions as they look to make Santa Cruz an offer he can't refuse to place his coveted green WBC belt on the line in Belfast.
It will take an outdoor venue to stage the event and Ravenhill in the summer would appear ideal with Ulster Rugby on their sabbatical, though McGuigan is also weighing up staging it outdoors at the Balmoral Showgrounds.
"We would expect 20,000 for a world title fight, it would be a huge event but we have to realise that Santa Cruz is the champion, he's a big name in the States so it is not going to be easy," said McGuigan.
However the talks develop, one thing is now certain – Frampton has taken himself into boxing's major league. Battles with Santa Cruz and fellow Mexican Andres Gutierrez, as well as a planned step up to featherweight within the next 18 months, would potentially take him into the millionaire bracket.
Few fighters from Northern Ireland have attracted the attention of American television in the same way Frampton has. His humility, combined with genuine world class fighting ability, makes him highly marketable in the States.
The 5ft 5' fighting machine from Tiger's Bay quite simply has gold dust in his hammer-like fists and only the very best are going to threaten to derail his rapid rise up boxing's world ladder.
Now it is over to former world featherweight champion McGuigan to see if he can win the biggest battle of his managerial career.
It would certainly be a major coup if McGuigan could deliver the big one for Frampton on home turf, bringing back memories of his 1985 outdoor World title showdown with Eusebio Pedroza.
Either way, McGuigan and Frampton are now staring at boxing's Promised Land.