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Meet Carl Frampton’s 21 year old sparring partner who is “a better fighter than Santa Cruz”

Leo Santa Cruz is one of the best featherweights in the business.

Tall, strong, and fit, ‘El Terremoto’ throws 100 punches a round and can completely smother most opponents in the 126lbs division.

It must be hard to find fighters able to replicate this in sparring, but Team Frampton have revealed that they have the perfect stand-in for Santa Cruz ahead of Saturday’s rematch in Las Vegas. In fact, they feel that they have someone better than Santa Cruz.

Meet Jon Fernandez [10(8)-0], a 21 year old super featherweight from Bilbao, Spain, and someone that Frampton coach Shane McGuigan feels has a bright future in the sport.

The Battersea-based trainer told the Belfast Telegraph that “Fernandez is an incredibly talented fighter and he’s been pushing Carl because he’s a better fighter than Santa Cruz. That has brought Carl on.”

“He’s a really good inside fighter and hits harder than Santa Cruz as well.”

The youngster is promoted by Sergio Martinez’s Maravillabox Promotions and recently won the WBC Youth title.

On the fight itself, McGuigan believes that we will see an improved Carl Frampton and outlined how “Carl was only 80 per cent of what he could have been against Santa Cruz in the first fight. I have watched the first fight again and I could see how he could have made it an easier win for himself and we have talked about that.”

“The last time he got clipped with a few too many shots so that can improve and he knows he can go 12 hard rounds and still be hitting as hard in the last round as he was in the first whereas Santa Cruz’s strength dips a bit when he gets into the championship rounds.”

“I think you’re going to see a great performance this time against Santa Cruz because he has worked his whole life to be here headlining at the MGM.”

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