By Keith Idec
Carl Frampton makes it clear whenever he is asked that the fight he wants most is a rubber match with Leo Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz avenged his majority-decision defeat to Frampton in July 2016 by defeating Frampton by majority decision in their 12-round rematch in January 2017. Northern Ireland’s Frampton wants to avenge his lone loss against the WBA featherweight champion and also would welcome shots at WBO champ Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) or WBC champ Gary Russell Jr. (29-1, 17 KOs).
Frampton’s promoter prefers another fight first.
If the heavily favored Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs) beats Australia’s Luke Jackson (16-0, 7 KOs) for the WBO interim featherweight championship Saturday night in Belfast, Frank Warren wants to match Frampton against newly crowned IBF featherweight champ Josh Warrington next. Warren promotes Warrington, too, thus the Warrington-Frampton fight makes much more financial sense for him.
England’s Warrington (27-0, 6 KOs) upset Wales’ Lee Selby (26-2, 9 KOs) by split decision in their 12-rounder to win the IBF 126-pound championship May 19 in Leeds, Warrington’s hometown.
Frampton’s fight against Jackson will draw a capacity crowd of roughly 25,000 to Windsor Park, an outdoor soccer stadium in Belfast. A comparable crowd attended the card headlined by the Warrington-Selby bout at Elland Road, also an outdoor soccer stadium.
“Well, obviously the Santa Cruz fight, a rubber match, is a big thing [for Frampton],” Warren told BoxingScene.com this week. “Valdez is a big fight. But there’s another guy here in the UK, Josh Warrington, who beat Lee Selby, who everybody was saying was the best pound-for-pound British fighter. He took him to school. And that fight between Josh Warrington, if it happens, and Carl is a huge fight. It’s a huge fight over here. It’s a massive fight. The winner can go on and fight Valdez and Santa Cruz.
“You look at the two guys. This [Frampton-Jackson card] is sold out – 25,000. … Josh Warrington’s last fight was in Leeds, in England, stadium, 25,000 people. They’re big ticket-selling fights. It’s a big fight over here and it makes a lot of sense to make. But obviously, Carl can’t slip on that banana skin with Luke Jackson. He’s gotta come through that fight – he’s gotta win that fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.