By Keith Idec
The fight Carl Frampton wants the most is a rubber match against Leo Santa Cruz.
The former two-division champion split a pair of back-to-back featherweight championship matches with Santa Cruz and Frampton is eager to prove his superiority over his Mexican-American rival. Frank Warren, Frampton’s new promoter, promised, however, that the Belfast native won’t waste time waiting around for Santa Cruz to agree to a third fight against him.
Their schedules could align for the summer showdown Frampton wants at Windsor Park, an outdoor soccer stadium in Belfast. Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) would first have to beat Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) in their rematch, which is expected to take place sometime in March in the Los Angeles area.
Santa Cruz has repeatedly stated that he would fight Frampton in Belfast, but thus far has been reluctant to do so.
Mares also has said that he would travel to Belfast to face Frampton (24-1, 14 KOs) in his following fight if he defeats Santa Cruz in their second bout. Santa Cruz won their first fight by majority decision in August 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Regardless, Warren made it clear after Frampton’s unanimous-decision victory over Mexico’s Horacio Garcia at SSE Arena in Belfast on Saturday night that Frampton must remain active. The 30-year-old Frampton admits he was rusty against Garcia (33-4-1, 24 KOs), who was credited with knocking down Frampton in the seventh round.
“We’re not going to hang around, waiting for Santa Cruz,” Warren said, according to the Belfast Telegraph. “Josh [Warrington] is fighting Lee Selby in April or May. In the meantime, Carl needs to keep busy. He’s just got the ring rust off after 10 months out of the ring. We don’t want him being out now until summer, so he’ll have another fight in March or early April, and then we’ll be in Windsor Park for the big one. That’s what we promised to do and we’re going to bring it here.”
Frampton defeated Santa Cruz by majority decision to win the WBA super world featherweight title in July 2016 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Santa Cruz won that title back from Frampton, also by majority decision, on January 28 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.