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Carl Frampton praises travelling fans after epic showdown on Las Vegas strip

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Gary Lightbody with James Nesbitt

Gary Lightbody with James Nesbitt

©William Cherry / Presseye

Lightbody, Pete Snodden and Colin Murray lark around with fans

Lightbody, Pete Snodden and Colin Murray lark around with fans

©William Cherry / Presseye

Gary Lightbody with James Nesbitt

In the smoky casino rooms of Las Vegas, where fortunes are won and lost on the spin of a roulette wheel, hard luck stories abound.

And as they exited into the bright lights of the Strip and the night chill drawing in off the Nevada desert plains, for Carl Frampton's travelling army it was hard to escape the feeling of someone who'd just lost big.

Boxing is an unforgiving business and, despite a courageous effort in another epic duel against his great rival Leo Santa Cruz, this was still a bitter disappointment.

Close to 5,000 were here to cheer on the Jackal, making up half the 10,000-plus crowd inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

One of the world's great sporting theatres, it has played host to epic contests down the years, its rich history including appearances by legends of the ring such as Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler and Floyd Mayweather.

Memories of past fights staged here line the walls of Taps Sports Bar, such as a glove from the 1996 De la Hoya-Chavez battle.

Other memorabilia includes a jersey worn by Magic Johnson, star of the 1980s LA Lakers NBA team, and a stick from the LA Kings' Stanley Cup-winning NHL side.

A venue for legends, fans hoped Frampton would write his own name into sporting history with a second win over Santa Cruz.

The pair had clashed memorably in New York last summer, with the Jackal dethroning the previously unbeaten Mexican in an enthralling contest to become WBA featherweight champion.

The rematch in Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world, was always going to be a big draw.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz (L) lands a punch on Carl Frampton during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (L) lands a punch on Carl Frampton during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Kenny Bayless holds up Leo Santa Cruz's hand after he was announced as the winner by majority decision in his WBA featherweight title fight against Carl Frampton at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Kenny Bayless holds up Leo Santa Cruz's hand after he was announced as the winner by majority decision in his WBA featherweight title fight against Carl Frampton at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Carl Frampton (C) is shown after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took the title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Carl Frampton (C) is shown after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took the title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton by majority decision to win their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton by majority decision to win their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton is dejected after losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz celebrates after defeating Carl Frampton to regain his WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz (L) and Carl Frampton battle in the 12th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (L) and Carl Frampton battle in the 12th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz (L) hits Carl Frampton in the first round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (L) hits Carl Frampton in the first round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz (L) lands a punch on Carl Frampton during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (L) lands a punch on Carl Frampton during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Carl Frampton (L) takes a punch from Leo Santa Cruz during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Carl Frampton (L) takes a punch from Leo Santa Cruz during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Carl Frampton (L) throws a left at Leo Santa Cruz in the 11th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Carl Frampton (L) throws a left at Leo Santa Cruz in the 11th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Carl Frampton listens to members of his corner between rounds during his WBA featherweight title fight against Leo Santa Cruz during their at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Carl Frampton listens to members of his corner between rounds during his WBA featherweight title fight against Leo Santa Cruz during their at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz (R) hits Carl Frampton with a left in the 11th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (R) hits Carl Frampton with a left in the 11th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz (R) smiles at Carl Frampton at the end of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (R) smiles at Carl Frampton at the end of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Carl Frampton (L) gets hit with a punch from Leo Santa Cruz during the 12th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Carl Frampton (L) gets hit with a punch from Leo Santa Cruz during the 12th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Carl Frampton (L) throws a left at Leo Santa Cruz in the 10th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Carl Frampton (L) throws a left at Leo Santa Cruz in the 10th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Leo Santa Cruz (R) hits Carl Frampton with a right in the 10th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (R) hits Carl Frampton with a right in the 10th round of their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won by majority decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28:  Carl Frampton (R) and Leo Santa Cruz battle during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Carl Frampton (R) and Leo Santa Cruz battle during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Pete Snodden and Colin Murray at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Pete Snodden and Colin Murray at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Gary Lightbody at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Gary Lightbody at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Christine Frampton at ringside to watch her husband Carl Frampton.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Christine Frampton at ringside to watch her husband Carl Frampton. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Christine Frampton at ringside to watch her husband Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Christine Frampton at ringside to watch her husband Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

David Haye at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry David Haye at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Gary Lightbody at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Gary Lightbody at ringside to watch Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Josh Taylor defeats Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Josh Taylor defeats Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

The MGM Garen Arena in Las Vegas where Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz will face each other for the WBA featherweight title rematch

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry The MGM Garen Arena in Las Vegas where Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz will face each other for the WBA featherweight title rematch

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Josh Taylor with Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Josh Taylor with Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Josh Taylor with Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Josh Taylor with Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans waiting to get into Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans waiting to get into Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

A Mexican band entertain fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry A Mexican band entertain fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

A Mexican band entertain fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry A Mexican band entertain fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans waiting to get into Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans waiting to get into Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans waiting to get into Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans waiting to get into Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz fans during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Fans of Carl Frampton make a lot of noise during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Leo Santa Cruz on the scales during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch against Carl Frampton for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz face each other during Fridays weigh-in at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas ahead of Saturdays rematch for the WBA featherweight title. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Josh Taylor with Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th January 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Josh Taylor with Alfonso Olvera during their Super Lightweight fight at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 28: Leo Santa Cruz (L) lands a punch on Carl Frampton during their WBA featherweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz took Frampton's title with a majority decision win. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Fans arrived here in their hundreds as fight day neared.

There was expectation, not just hope, as they made their way slowly through immigration after 10-hour flights.

By Saturday the numbers had swelled to thousands, many patriotically clad in green and white.

The Strip, the 4.2-mile stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard, famed for its hotels, casinos and nightlife, was a natural gathering point.

As the countdown entered its last hours, the fans massed outside Nine Fine Irishmen, an Irish pub in the shadow of the MGM Grand.

Some sported souvenir Frampton in Las Vegas T-shirts, featuring his name set against the famous Welcome sign that greets visitors here. Others wore Northern Ireland football jerseys.

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland  - 6th November 2009  - Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye - Barry Hearn in association with Brian Peters Promotions presents Sky Sports fight night at the Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magerafelt, Northern Ireland.  Super-Bantamweight Contest - Carl Frampton v Ignac Kassai.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th November 2009 - Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye - Barry Hearn in association with Brian Peters Promotions presents Sky Sports fight night at the Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magerafelt, Northern Ireland. Super-Bantamweight Contest - Carl Frampton v Ignac Kassai.

Pacemaker Press 12/6/10 Carl Frampton on his way to victory against Ian Bailey at the King' Hall Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 12/6/10 Carl Frampton on his way to victory against Ian Bailey at the King' Hall Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye  18th September 2010
Barry McGuigan Presents Boxing at The Ulster Hall.
Carl Frampton v Yuriy Voronin in 8x3 Min Rounds
©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye 18th September 2010 Barry McGuigan Presents Boxing at The Ulster Hall. Carl Frampton v Yuriy Voronin in 8x3 Min Rounds ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Carl Frampton fights Yuri Voronin in Ulster Hall, Belfast
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 18th September 2010 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry

Carl Frampton fights Yuri Voronin in Ulster Hall, Belfast ©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 18th September 2010 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry

©William Cherry / Presseye

Carl Frampton won the Celtic super-bantamweight title at the Ulster Hall on Friday night against Gavin Reid.

Carl Frampton won the Celtic super-bantamweight title at the Ulster Hall on Friday night against Gavin Reid.

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Official title fight for the vacant Commonwealth Super Bantamweight belt between Carl Frampton and Mark Quon at the Odyssey arena, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.10/9/11 PACEMAKER BELFAST.

Official title fight for the vacant Commonwealth Super Bantamweight belt between Carl Frampton and Mark Quon at the Odyssey arena, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.10/9/11 PACEMAKER BELFAST.

Carl Frampton celebrates successful defence of Commonwealth belt against Kris Hughes

Carl Frampton celebrates successful defence of Commonwealth belt against Kris Hughes

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Title delight: Carl Frampton proves his class as he clinches the  inter-continental crown against Raul Hirales in May 2012

Title delight: Carl Frampton proves his class as he clinches the inter-continental crown against Raul Hirales in May 2012

LAWRENCE LUSTIG

Boxing Odyssey: Carl Frampton's stoppage of Steve Molitor in Belfast has increased his profile

Boxing Odyssey: Carl Frampton's stoppage of Steve Molitor in Belfast has increased his profile

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Last time: Carl Frampton and Kiko Martinez during their previous bout at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast in 2013

Last time: Carl Frampton and Kiko Martinez during their previous bout at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast in 2013

Carl in action against Jeremy Parodi in October 2013

Carl in action against Jeremy Parodi in October 2013

Carl Frampton demolishes Hugo Cazares in two rounds back in April 2014

Carl Frampton demolishes Hugo Cazares in two rounds back in April 2014

Photo-William Cherry/Presseye

Packing a punch: Carl Frampton lands a blow against Kiko Martinez en route to clinching the IBF World super-bantamweight title at the Titanic slipway last September

Packing a punch: Carl Frampton lands a blow against Kiko Martinez en route to clinching the IBF World super-bantamweight title at the Titanic slipway last September

Carl Frampton (right) against Chris Avalos in February 2015

Carl Frampton (right) against Chris Avalos in February 2015

©William Cherry / Presseye

First to the punch: Frampton lands a blow on Gonzalez jr during the World title fight in El Paso, Texas PRESSEYE

First to the punch: Frampton lands a blow on Gonzalez jr during the World title fight in El Paso, Texas PRESSEYE

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye / Jorge Salgado / Press Eye

Carl Frampton fighting Scott Quigg.  Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Carl Frampton fighting Scott Quigg. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th November 2009 - Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye - Barry Hearn in association with Brian Peters Promotions presents Sky Sports fight night at the Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magerafelt, Northern Ireland. Super-Bantamweight Contest - Carl Frampton v Ignac Kassai.

As they joined together in song, for many it was like the Euros revisited with memories of that glorious month in France flooding back.

Some of the locals were introduced to the Will Grigg song, with a street entertainer commissioned to provide the backing music.

Inside the MGM Grand, Team Frampton formed a wall of noise, at times drowning out the boisterous Mexican-American contingent.

They had been stirred by the explosive victory of LA favourite Mikey Garcia in the build-up, ensuring a frenzied atmosphere.

Among the excited crowd were Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, actor James Nesbitt and Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody.

The noise levels shot through the roof of the arena when, shortly after 8pm, both fighters made their way to the ring.

A sea of green greeted the defending champion and his entourage as they emerged to the sound of 'Frampton's on Fire'.

The formalities over, the crowd cheered and applauded wildly as another explosive contest unfolded.

A fast start from the Mexican drew acclaim from the Santa Cruz end, but soon the Frampton section found their voice.

Even when it became clear that the Jackal's crown was hanging by the most slender of threads, the wall of sound from his amazing fans continued to reverberate around the arena.

When it was done the noise hushed as fans waited on the judges' verdict, hoping he had done enough but privately realising the dream was over.

Ever the gentleman, Frampton nodded and applauded his opponent when the scores were announced, before paying tribute to his army of fans in a gracious post-fight interview.

"Leo probably deserved it. It was my fault and I want to apologise to the travelling fans," he told them.

"I hope we can do it again - we need to do it again," he added.

His eloquence in the face of bitter disappointment and a first career defeat met with approval from both sets of fans.

Frampton had fought as a champion and lost like a man.

His fans - and the world - now await the trilogy.

Belfast Telegraph