Belfast Telegraph

Carl Frampton: I have the power to knock Leo Santa Cruz's block off in in Las Vegas

By Carl Frampton

An athlete knows when he is ready to fire, when he has raised the bar and I just feel going into this re-match with Leo Santa Cruz more explosive than ever before — like a stack of dynamite waiting for the fuse to be lit.

Every fighter will say they’ve had a great camp but over the past weeks there have been moments in the gym when I’ve done things that have been very encouraging, moments that just give a fighter even more confidence and it’s clear to me that I’m settling even more into the featherweight division.

One stand-out moment came in my final sparring session in London before I headed back home for Christmas. I was set to do 12 rounds, some with a light-welterweight and the others with a featherweight but then jarred my neck quite badly which would later need some work with the chiropractor.

It was very sore and Shane wasn’t sure whether to stop the spar or not and it just really annoyed me because I wanted to get the 12 rounds and go home feeling good. It made me more determined to grit it out, more spiteful and determined to go on and then I just unloaded and knocked out the light-welter, cold.

The featherweight got in and he annoyed me because he was throwing quick tap-tap-tap shots and I caught him and his legs did a funny dance so I backed off but after I hit him again the spar was over in the 12th round.

I had stuck it out and produced some serious power… it’s a sweet feeling when you land a perfectly timed shot that knocks somebody out. That might sound barbaric but it’s the truth that in that moment it’s one of the sweetest moments for a boxer. Then in an instant you have concern for the boxer who is hurt. It does boost your confidence even more when you see what you are capable of.

It also shows you the difference between boxing and other sports like football. A niggling injury like that would have a footballer out for a fortnight but I can’t afford that, you have to work through it. It’s part of the business of training for a fight and even through a fight you pick up little injuries but the adrenaline carries you through.

I finished off my sparring here in Vegas and one of the last spars was with my gym-mate Josh Taylor, the Commonwealth super-lightweight champion and that was great. It was very competitive, we did seven rounds and I came out thinking this guy is world class and way better than Santa Cruz and it had gone so well.

I was trying new things, some of the adjustments that we have been making for this fight and it has been going well.

It has shown me how I can be even better in this second fight with Santa Cruz. The Spanish guy we’ve had for a lot of the sparring, John Fernandez, has been great.

It’s going to be very special walking into the MGM Grand as the headline act in such a big fight with Santa Cruz. The fights we have with each other will be remembered for a long time and I hope that kids will look at where I’ve come from and be inspired to pursue their own dreams and goals.

There have been more skilled fighters than me over the years in Belfast but maybe they were not just as determined and they have just fallen away. Talent is needed, you need that foundation, but it only takes you so far. I’m a working class guy who has done well for himself and kids in housing estates have to know they can do it too whatever it is they are passionate about.

I never dreamed I would headline in Vegas, I always wanted to be a world champion but it wasn’t until I was European champion that I started thinking it could become a reality.

It’s been a great journey, I’ve been very lucky with the way things have worked out. I’ve made the right decisions and now I’m at the top of the sport I want to stay there and get even better.

A win over Santa Cruz will cement the reason why I was chosen as the Fighter of the Year, that it was fully deserved and that the public will look at my performance and see a guy who is getting better and better.

It would also give my fans another great night… to see them at that weigh-in is going to be special and then on fight night it should be another great atmosphere. I’ve never felt sharper and I’m fighting on the biggest stage in world boxing … this should be very, very special.

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