Carl Frampton expects benefits from stepping up in weight
Carl Frampton has revealed the extent of the benefits he expects to feel from stepping up in weight to fight Leo Santa Cruz on Saturday.
The Northern Irishman bids to become a two-weight world champion when he challenges Mexican-American WBA featherweight title holder Santa Cruz at the Barclays Centre in New York.
He fights for the first time at 122lbs - incidentally for the title his manager Barry McGuigan won in 1985 - and will do so having not again drained himself to make super-bantamweight, where he won two titles.
"(From Tuesday until Friday's) weigh-in I'll only do one session a day, which isn't normal," said the 29-year-old.
"I'd usually have time to do two sessions in the lead-up to the fight (to make weight).
"So my weight's perfect and mentally I feel good, physically I feel good, and I'll be ready for a tough night.
"If I'm being realistic, I probably killed myself to do super-bantamweight for the last year and a bit. I wasn't performing my best at it because of making the weight, but now I'm up at 126 pounds, I'm absolutely slamming the gym, my energy levels are good right now.
"I believe I out-grew super-bantamweight a long time ago and this is going to be the best version of me there has been yet, and I wanted a big name. What bigger than Santa Cruz?"
Regardless of his greater comfort in this fight's build-up, there remains the possibility that on Saturday the superior size and strength Santa Cruz possesses over any previous opponent will overcome that.
Numerous fighters have spoken of the confidence they have taken from being able to carry added weight before, as the fight unfolds, discovering unexpected challenges against naturally bigger men.
Frampton has been sparring with a lightweight in his preparations, but Santa Cruz is a high quality pressure fighter. His intense work-rate not only presents Frampton's toughest challenge to date, it ensures that for the first time in his career he is also not the favourite.
"My punching power will play a big part in it," he said. "It's about getting his respect early in the fight. I have to hit him hard and hurt him in the first or second round to make him respect me.
"When I start nailing him clean he won't be as willing to come forward and engage as he has been in previous fights. But that's what I intend to do.
"Look, Santa Cruz is a type of fighter I've been craving for my whole career, someone who comes forward and throws punches. That's what I feel that my style works best against."
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