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Josh Warrington replaces Carl Frampton on “surprised” Leo Santa Cruz’s hitlist

Leo Santa Cruz admits he is surprised that Josh Warrington has replaced Carl Frampton on his 2019 opponent wishlist.

El Terremoto’ was confident his former foe would dethrone the Leeds fighter to claim the IBF featherweight world title and set up a massive unification rubber match between the pair some time in 2019. 

However, Warrington upset the odds once again when outpointing ‘The Jackal’ in Manchester three days shy of Christmas. 

The win not only sees the Warrington retain his IBF featherweight world title, but pushes him toward some massive unification bouts following another star-making performance. 

There is talk of a fight with WBO titleholder Oscar Valdez and WBA champion Santa Cruz is also keen on the Englishman. 

The Mexican, who is 1-1 with Frampton, claims he wants to become undisputed champion and claims he will target the three remaining beltholders after his bout with Miguel Flores in February. 

Frampton has said a bout with either Warrington or Santa Cruz would appeal and prompt him to delay any retirement plans, but with unification options on the table for both, and a Kid Galahad mandatory for Warrington, an immediate clash with either seems unlikely.

Not to mention Santa Cruz claims he will move up in weight if he doesn’t get a clash with any of the three remaining belt holders.

 “I want to be the king in 126lbs,” the 30-year-old said.

“To do that I have to beat Gary Russell, Oscar Valdez, Josh Warrington.”

“Any of those fights, but if those fights don’t happen I wanna move to 130lbs and look for a title at 130lbs.”

“I’ve already been told that after I get past this fight I’m gonna get a fight against any of those champions. Gary Russell or Warrington.

“I’m gonna get three fights in 2019 – that’s what I was told – and there’s gonna be a unification.”

Prior to December 22nd, the three-weight world champion believed Frampton would be a 2019 unification option and he had said that he would finally face the Irishman over two years on from their last clash.

The Mexican backed the Belfast fighter to regain world champion status and was surprised his prediction didn’t come to fruition.

“I was surprised with Warrington [against Frampton],” continued Santa Cruz who defends his belt in a much-derided clash with Miguel Flores next month.

“I knew he was a tough fighter, I knew he was gonna come and give a great fight, but I didn’t think he was gonna come and win.”

“But, you know, he did it. He came in and surprised us all. He showed us all wrong and he showed that anything can happen in boxing.”


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Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com