By Keith Idec
Carl Frampton is getting ready for another opponent, but a rubber match with Leo Santa Cruz remains the fight Frampton wants most.
Frampton and Santa Cruz won a majority decision in each of their first two fights. Frampton feels he wants that third fight more than Santa Cruz, though.
“Well, it has to happen at some point, I think,” Frampton told FightHype.com in a video interview posted Monday. “I seem to be the only one talking about it between the two of us, and I think he needs to be a little bit more vocal because it’s one each. Again, it has to happen. The fight has to happen. You can’t leave it [at] that. I think it’ll be a bitter pill for me to swallow if a third one doesn’t happen. But I think it will. I think it’ll come off at some point.”
Belfast’s Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs) had hoped to lure Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) to Northern Ireland for their third bout, but he essentially has given up that pursuit.
Their first fight, which Frampton won, took place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in July 2016. Their immediate rematch, which Santa Cruz won, occurred at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in January 2017.
“I’ve said and I’ve told him I’m willing to travel,” Frampton said. “I think this idea of bringing him to the UK is out of my head now. I just don’t think they’re ever gonna come to the UK. So I’m willing to travel to settle the score. You know, at one each it has to be done. So I hope it comes off.”
Santa Cruz lives and trains in the Los Angeles area. The WBA featherweight champion said following his unanimous-decision win over Abner Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) in their June 9 rematch at Staples Center that he wants to box WBC champ Gary Russell Jr. (29-1, 17 KOs) in a 126-pound title unification fight.
Frampton feels their third fight is “bigger” than Santa Cruz-Russell. The former featherweight and super bantamweight champ also realizes that if he can win a featherweight title he’ll become a more attractive option for Santa Cruz.
Frampton and Australia’s Luke Jackson (16-0, 7 KOs) will fight for the WBO interim featherweight title August 18 at Windsor Park, an outdoor stadium in Belfast.
“If I go into 2019 with a world title and Leo’s still a champion, which I expect him to be,” Frampton said, “then you’re talking about unifying and maybe that’ll force his hand a bit more and it’s a bigger fight then as well.
“But in the featherweight division at this point, although I don’t have a world title, me against Leo Santa Cruz to settle the trilogy is the biggest fight. It’s bigger than him unifying with another champion at the minute. Me and Leo Santa Cruz is the biggest fight in the division.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.