Last Chance for Leo – Carl Frampton sets Santa Cruz ultimatum


Carl Frampton [26(15)-2(0)] believes the ball is well and truly in Leo Santa Cruz’s court regarding a third fight between the pair and knows that he has options.

The Belfast featherweight has elected to fight on following his unsuccessful challenge of IBF champ Josh Warrington in December.

It’s big fights only for Frampton from here on in but the Tiger’s Bay boxer is safe in the knowledge that he has options.

WBA champ Santa Cruz defends the belt he traded with Frampton in an epic two fight series this weekend, taking on the unheralded Rafael Rivera at the Microsoft Theater in LA.

Rivera is a late replacement for Miguel Flores, with both opponents having come in for criticism.

Frampton has described the match-up as a “handy fight” for Santa Cruz against “a guy I’m not even aware of” and wants the Mexican-American to finally look to settle their score this summer.

Santa Cruz himself has spoken of a unification with WBC champ Gary Russell Jr but it has been reported that PBC chiefs are open to a Frampton rubber match.

‘The Jackal’ is confident he will get a chance in another big fight and, writing in his weekly column for the Sunday Life, outlined how “I’m more convinced than ever that a big opportunity is going to come my way and I’ve started to tick over in my old amateur club, Midland, to make sure I have a certain level of fitness when a call comes because in this business things can be quiet for a while and then suddenly change very quickly.”

“I feel that within the next fortnight the picture will become very clear,” he added before reiterating that Santa Cruz, with the scores locked at one win apiece, is his preferred option.

‘El Terremoto’ needs to beat Rivera but little issue is expected here and Frampton noted how “once that is done then we’re going to find out how serious he is about finally facing me to complete our trilogy.”

“It’s over to Santa Cruz this Saturday night to retain his title and then show everyone if he’s finally serious about fighting me again. If he’s not, I know I won’t be short of a big opportunity in 2019.”

The other main option, should Frampton stay at feather rather than move up or down, is WBO champ Oscar Valdez.

Valdez, promoted by Bob Arum who has a strong relationship with Frampton’s boss Frank Warren, is looking to be exceedingly busy having made his return to the ring from a broken jaw last week.

The Mexican defeated Carmine Tommasone and looks set to box again next month.

Frampton, who turns 32 later this month, has been mentioned as an opponent by Arum but the Ulsterman insists it will be the summer before he boxes again – but has previously revealed that talks are ongoing with both Valdez and Santa Cruz.

The former two-weight three-time champ outlined that “obviously next month is far too soon for me to consider a fight with Valdez but again, com the summer when my court case in May with Cyclone Promotions is out of the way then I would be ready to go.”

“It’s encouraging to me that my name is still on the lips of the top guys when they’re thinking about big fights. It just emphasises again the importance of my fan base and also that I’m usually in exciting fights so the promoters and the TV guys know what they’re going to get.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie