The Mexican-American pledged that he would face Frampton in a rubber match in Belfast ahead of the pair’s Las Vegas rematch back in January 2017.
The declaration came at a press conference in Belfast but, following Santa Cruz’s win to level the scores, he would go back on his word.
‘El Terremoto’ would cite his father and coach José’s fear of a hometown decision in favour of Frampton before also noting visa worries.
Throughout all the talk, Santa Cruz has been constant in noting that all decisions are left up to his team rather than exercising autonomy over his own career – but he has now admitted that he is keen to fight on the road.
Speaking after his successful title defence versus the unheralded Rafael Rivera last weekend, Santa Cruz said that “of course I would love to travel.”
The declaration was in response to a question from a reporter asking would he be willing to fight Frampton or IBF champ Josh Warrington in the UK and he added that “I’ve never been away to fight so if they offer me and, my team, [if] they want me to go over there, if they say ‘yes’ then I’ll go over there.”
That said, Santa Cruz claims he has no preference regarding who he takes on next.
The LA-based fighter outlined how “I leave it to my team to see who I’m going to fight next.”
“If they come and say ‘you’re going to fight Gary Russell’, I’ll say ‘no problem’, if they come and say it ‘fight Davis’, no problem. Whoever they tell me, I’ll fight.”
“Whoever my team come and say, that’s who I’ll fight but those [Davis, Russell, Frampton, Warrington] are the names that I want.”
“We’re going to tell him [Al Haymon] what we want and then, whatever he says, that’s what we’re going to go for.”
While he is not top of Santa Cruz’s hitlist, preliminary talks have begun between Team Frampton and the champion.
With Warrington straddled with a mandatory, Russell Jr crippled by inactivity, and Davis operating at super feather, the scene could open up for Frampton.
Whether Santa Cruz would travel for the fight remains a different story, with the champion affiliated to Al Haymon while Frampton is promoted by Frank Warren – who has a close working relationship with U.S. rival Bob Arum.
Frampton has elected to box on following his defeat to Warrington in December and the soon-to-be 32-year-old will be back in the ring in the summer in a “very, very big fight” according to Warren.
Santa Cruz remains his slight preference but WBO champ Oscar Valdez who, crucially, is promoted by Top Rank is perhaps a likelier foe.