World champ Carl made history with a stunning display
Beflast Telegraph Sports Awards
Sometimes fights do live up to all the hype. Carl Frampton's battle with Leo Santo Cruz in New York for the WBA World Featherweight title this year certainly did that. It proved to be a classic contest between two great warriors.
In the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, Northern Ireland hero Frampton and Mexican marvel Santa Cruz provided 12 exciting, entertaining and exhilarating rounds of boxing.
Once they had finished thrilling the spectators in the arena and those watching on television it was time for the verdict from the judges.
When it came, the scenes were something to behold as Frampton, his manager Barry McGuigan, his coach Shane McGuigan and all his fans celebrated a glorious victory.
Frampton had won on points and deservedly so after a fantastic fight taking the WBA World Featherweight title away from respected champion Santa Cruz.
Before the battle many American boxing experts had tipped Santa Cruz, but Frampton proved them wrong and showed the world that he was the real deal.
The Belfast man also made history with his victory as he became the first Northern Ireland fighter to win a world title in two different weight divisions.
Frampton said: "This was a great victory for me. I wanted to get in the ring with a true champion like Leo Santa Cruz and wanted to be involved in a fight that people would remember.
"It was a tough fight and maybe I could have made it easier for myself but I know it was exciting for the fans and to win a fight like that is a great feeling.
"It also means a great deal to me to be the first boxer from Northern Ireland to win a world title at two different weights.
"It is fantastic to make history like that."
The fight was so thrilling that Frampton, Santa Cruz and their teams have decided to do it all over again.
The two world class performers will have their re-match in Vegas on January 28.
Frampton's manager McGuigan said: "The contest in July in New York showed what a great fighter Carl is.
"He was up against a tremendous performer in Leo Santa Cruz and delivered a brilliant performance and I believe there is even more to come from Carl in the future," he added.
Pick your sporting moment of 2016
THE Belfast Telegraph, want YOU, our readers, to decide what was Northern Ireland’s greatest sporting moment of 2016.
Over the next two weeks we will be reflecting on the 10 shortlisted moments from this year.
You can vote for your favourite at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport in the Sports Awards section.
Here are all your options:
- Gareth McAuley’s Euro 2016 NI goal v Ukraine
- Carl Frampton beating Leo Santa Cruz
- Jonathan Rea retaining his World Superbike title
- Bethany Firth’s golden world record
- Jason Smyth’s gold at Paralympics
- Michael McKillop’s gold at Paralympics
- Rory Best leading Ireland to victory over New Zealand
- Rory McIlroy winning FedEx Cup
- Tyrone lifting the Ulster Championship
- Alastair Seeley breaking Robert Dunlop’s NW200 record