By Steve Wellings
Carl Frampton has warned rival Leo Santa Cruz that he believes he has the power to knock the Mexican out on Saturday night. Speaking at Thursday’s press conference in New York’s swanky Dream Hotel, Carl said that even though Santa Cruz is strong and punches hard he should be prepared to take some big shots in the return.
“I believe I have the power to knock him out, especially at 126lbs,” said Frampton.
“I have to be aware of his power. I would go as far as saying that he’s not the most devastating puncher in the world but if he catches you on the end of one of his long shots then he can punch alright. I hope Leo’s respectful of my power. Anyone can punch with small gloves on though. It was the same in Texas, I thought I would walk through Gonzalez.”
Both men weighed in yesterday without incident. ‘The Jackal’ scaled 125 ¼lbs and ‘El Terremoto’ a comfortable 125 ½lbs . Buoyed by a vocal following Frampton looked calm and relaxed as he mingled with the crowd for an extended period following the formalities, making himself available for selfies and autographs. There has been no need for mind games or false animosity in the build-up with both men respecting one another’s ability.
“I’ve respected and admired Santa Cruz for a long time and while this will be the toughest fight of my career it will also be the toughest of Leo’s. I’m in good shape, I’m physically prepared and I can’t wait for the night.”
Carl now appears full of confidence and energy after making the jump up to featherweight to challenge Santa Cruz for his WBA crown. Those extra four pounds may be small in number but they will make a huge difference in the big Barclays Center headliner.
“I’m staying at 126lbs for a while. I think the bookies and the media probably have Leo as the favourite and I understand why. I think everyone’s reading into my performance against Alejandro Gonzalez way too much. That was me killing myself to make 122lbs and I was only performing at 75 or 80 per cent of what I can. I’m a different animal at 126,” he said.
So often viewed as one of Al Haymon’s favourite fighters, Santa Cruz laid out his admiration for the little-seen promotional powerhouse when taking his turn on stage. Despite Leo’s close relationships and the fact that the Mexican inked a new sponsorship deal with Corona at the press conference, Frampton is not concerned over the potential sway all of this could have on the fight officials if the main event goes to a close points verdict.
“It doesn’t matter. I expect the judges to be very fair and all the judges and the referee have good reputations. We’re both Haymon fighters so I’m expecting a fair shake if it goes to points. I’m prepared to do what it takes to win. I’m not really worried about any of this stuff.”