Irish sensation Carl Frampton is one step away from a showdown against Mexican superstar Leo Santa Cruz.
The undefeated super-bantamweight ace will first have to get past Hugo Cazares when the pair meet on April 4th at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.
The show, billed as ‘This is Belfast’, will see Frampton take on the former two-time world champion in front of what is expected to be yet another sold out arena.
Here’s what Frampton had to say:
“Hugo Cazares is a former two-weight world champion from Mexico who brings a lot of experience and skill with him. I can’t wait to get back in front of the amazing Belfast crowd and secure my shot at the WBC world title.
“I have progressed so much in the last twelve months both in the boxing ring and out of it, and I believe that the next twelve months will bring me even more success and more importantly the world title.
“It’s fantastic to be boxing at home for the fourth consecutive time and to be fighting a former two-weight world champion in a final eliminator for the world title.”
‘The Jackal’ is convinced he will overcome Cazares to set the mood ahead of a huge sporting weekend in Belfast.
“It’s going to be such a big weekend for Belfast sport, I’ll be boxing on the Friday night and the Ulster Rugby team will be playing in the Heineken Cup Quarter-Final at Ravenhill on the Saturday,” Frampton said.
“Hopefully I can set the tone with a big victory and it will be a successful weekend all-round for Belfast. The whole city will be buzzing,” he said.
The 35-year-old Cazares, though, is equally determined to reclaim his spot back at the top of the sport and is unfazed by having to fight in Frampton’s backyard.
“April the 4th is my chance to put myself back on the world stage. I am a former champion and I have fought all over the world so going to Belfast is no problem for me,” he said.
“Frampton is a very good fighter but no one can stand in my way on my journey back to a world title,” vowed Cazares.
Boxing veteran and manager of Frampton, Barry McGuigan, knows that this fight is not an easy one for his young protégé and he will need to be at his peak to overcome the hardened Mexican.
“In Hugo Cazares, Carl faces a very experienced man who has been there and done it. He has won world titles in two weight divisions, including winning his second away from home in Japan, so he is no stranger to partisan crowds,” warned McGuigan.
“Carl will have to be at his best to beat this man and I believe he will, convincingly, and in doing so Carl will become the mandatory challenger to the WBC world champion, Leo Santa Cruz,” he said.
The prospect of a match with Santa Cruz, should Frampton come through, represents a potential ‘Fight of the Year’ contender with two, come-forward, all-action fighters going at it.