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Frampton-Santa Cruz rematch hangs in balance as WBA threaten Mares fight

Negotiations for a second Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz rematch will have to progress substantially in the next few days if the pair are to have a Summer showdown, in Belfast or elsewhere.

At the World Boxing Association’s weekly press conference today in Panama, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza announced that it is the organisation’s plan to order a rematch between their featherweight champion Santa Cruz and Abner Mares [30(15)-2(1)-1], who holds the ‘regular’ belt.

The order, which will be made official next week, stems from the WBA’s pledge last year to remove their much-derided ‘regular’ belts from circulation.

Santa Cruz [33(18)-1(0)-1] defeated Mares in a Battle of LA back in 2015. Mares since rebounded from the defeat, and a debilitating eye injury, to defeat Jesus Cuellar and take the ‘regular’ trinket.

However, hope still remains, and Mendoza noted that a Santa Cruz-Mares fight could be delayed should ‘El Terremoto’ come to an agreement to face Frampton in a third bout.

Frampton claimed the WBA 126lbs belt off Santa Cruz last Summer in New York, via majority decision, but would lose in the Las Vegas rematch, in another majority decision, last month.

Tentative negotiations have been ongoing between the two camps since, with both fighters being advised by the influential Al Haymon, however the major sticking point blocking a third fight seems to be veue.

Frampton [23(14)-1(0)], having travelled to America for the first two fights, wants the rubber match to take place in his home city of Belfast. He is keen for a third fight with the Mexican-American, but his first priority is to fight at home, having been on the road since his win over Chris Avalos.

Santa Cruz claims he is willing to come to the Titanic City, however notes that his father is against this, fearing a home town decision. The California-based three-weight champ also confirmed that his father’s word is final.

Barry McGuigan has said since that talks are still ongoing, and suggested that the lure of big pay-per-view money may entice Santa Cruz across the Atlantic.

Whatever happens, there are sure to be plenty of frantic phone calls made in the coming days as Team Frampton push for an immediate rematch on home soil.

Eric Donovan joins Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill on Episode 2 of the Irish Boxing Show:

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