Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Boxing

Superstar Carl Frampton has world in his hands after Santa Cruz victory

New featherweight king could move on to unification bouts and Santa Cruz rematch in Belfast also on cards

By David Kelly

Barry McGuigan was reduced to a tearful wreck at ringside after watching Carl Frampton's history-making victory over Leo Santa Cruz in Brooklyn's Barclays Centre.

McGuigan lost the WBA World featherweight title to Steve Cruz in the heat of Las Vegas 30 years ago and having just watched Frampton win the same belt, it was simply overwhelming for the Clones Cyclone.

Frampton eclipsed every Northern Ireland fighter by becoming a two-weight World champion, the former IBF/WBA super-bantamweight title holder outpointing Santa Cruz in a fight that lived up to all expectations.

More: Hero Frampton set to rake in 10 million fortune but won't forsake Northern Ireland for even bigger riches

As the verdict was announced, manager McGuigan, who has acclaimed Frampton's greatness from the moment he signed him in 2009, burst into tears of relief and joy at what he had just witnessed.

Frampton emphatically rubber stamped his status as one of the best fighters on the planet.

"We've always believed he could beat Santa Cruz," said McGuigan. "We knew he had more talent, he had more movement and he would bamboozle him with his feet.

"We worked on the single shot counters, he hurt him several times with right hooks around the side. He did get a bit right-hand happy as the fight went on but I thought it was a beautiful performance.

More: Carl Frampton had to bounce back off ropes to shine at highest level

"He stood and fought with Santa Cruz, and Santa Cruz doesn't like to be pushed back.

"What I said at the beginning was that he's got to fight him when Santa Cruz wants to box and box him when he wants to fight and I thought he carried it out to a tee.

"It was an amazing fight, probably one of the fights of the year, and I'm just thrilled because I knew he could do it. He's a super kid, he's a great fighter and he's an underrated puncher. He's the whole shebang, I promise.

"This is one of the greatest nights of my life. If you can't do it yourself, if you live it and breathe it with your fighter, it doesn't get much better than this."

Watched at ringside by, among others, IBF World featherweight champion Lee Selby of Wales and old rival Scott Quigg, Frampton raised his global stock and over the next three years the 29-year-old will be lined up for a series of mouth watering battles.

Such was the intensity of the battle at the Barclays Centre, it would be no surprise if Frampton took a break until early next year though an end-of-year first defence of the 9st crown could not be ruled out.

More: Watch: Carl Frampton celebrates world title win with fans in New York

Selby has made it clear all along that he would love to face Frampton and the Belfast man mentioned his name immediately after having his hand raised in victory over Santa Cruz.

A fight with Selby would be relatively easy to make as he is under the same American promotional banner as Frampton and the fight would generate a great deal of interest in the UK with both men putting their World titles on the line.

The future plans will naturally take time to evolve and a re-match with Santa Cruz is almost certainly going to happen within the next 12 months.

A summer showdown next year at Windsor Park would seem the obvious stage for a repeat of their Brooklyn brawl.

Just 12 months ago Frampton left Texas after a below-par display against Alejandro Gonzalez on his American debut but promised that this time those Stateside would see the best of him and so it proved.

Now top American channel Showtime have fallen in love with Frampton, manager McGuigan knows that his hand has been strengthened even further as he seeks to keep the Jackal moving forward with money-spinning battles.

One of those duels would be against the reigning WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell jnr, a hard-hitting American. But, frankly, whoever the 29-year-old meets over the coming couple of years he is going to be the box office attraction and consequently the man that everyone will want to meet to enjoy the biggest purses of their careers.

Frampton has elevated himself to the very highest level in boxing - and sport for that matter - just as manager McGuigan always said that he would.

Northern Ireland has a sporting warrior whose exploits should be savoured as it may take some time to see someone as potent as the Jackal.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph