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Bruised but unbowed Carl Frampton vows to win back title in Belfast

By David Kelly

Carl Frampton's proud parents believe their son will come back even stronger after a heartbreaking loss to big rival Leo Santa Cruz in the MGM Grand Garden arena, Las Vegas.

And the boxer's wife Christine added that it's been hard for him to shake off the notion that he let down the fans - although that is clearly not what the thousands who travelled to Nevada think.

The Northern Ireland hero lost his WBA featherweight title to Santa Cruz after 12 brutal rounds, just six months after beating the Mexican on points in New York to become Northern Ireland's first winner of World titles in two divisions.

His father Craig, who said he was touched by the dignified manner in which his son took defeat, admitting that Santa Cruz deserved the victory.

"It's not hard to be polite, that's the way I would expect him to be," he said.

"Obviously I'm disappointed, Christine's disappointed. It was pretty quiet in the dressing room afterwards.

"Hopefully, however, he'll get the third fight in Belfast, that seems to be what they're talking about, so that would be good. The support he has had out here has been terrific," Craig added.

Carl's mother Flo is determined her son will return to the ring stronger after the disappointment of tasting his first defeat as a professional.

"We are so proud of him after everything he has achieved," she said.

"We are overwhelmed by the support he has received. It's been amazing to see the amount of fans who have travelled out and I know so many people got up in the small hours of the morning back home to support him. I believe he will be back stronger after this."

Christine, meanwhile, said Carl's first thoughts were for his supporters, many of whom had made financial sacrifices to make it all the way to Vegas.

"At the moment he does feel like he has let them down," she said as Carl delighted many of those fans by downing a pint of stout with them in a bar last night.

"Having fans turn out like this win, lose or draw is amazing, and although we're devastated by the defeat, we are so grateful and humbled by it all."

Carl has vowed to win back his title in a rematch - preferably in Belfast, with Windsor Park mooted as an option.

And long-time friend and former amateur coach Cooper McClure, who continues to coach in the Midland club in Tigers Bay where Frampton honed his skills, believes he can have exact revenge on Santa Cruz in a third and decisive bout.

"I thought he nicked it but I thought Santa Cruz was smarter this time, so you have to take your hat off to Santa Cruz," said Cooper. "Carl can box better than that but like everyone else out here we support him when he wins and we support him when he loses.

"The support was great for him, he's got the best supporters in the world - whether it's football, rugby or whatever.

"But I have to say the Mexican support has been brilliant as well."

One Santa Cruz supporter, Esteban Sanchez, returned the compliment as he mingled with the Frampton fans late into the night in the MGM Grand hotel.

"The Frampton fans were friendly to us and so many have congratulated us for the win and we wouldn't get that with fans from other places, it would have been a different reaction," said Esteban.

Belfast Telegraph


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