Mexican star Leo Santa Cruz has insisted that he is undaunted at facing a hostile Carl Frampton crowd in New York on Saturday night. The pair collide in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated fights of the year when Northern Irishman Frampton moves up to featherweight to challenge WBA Super world champion Santa Cruz in a clash that will see one of their undefeated records tarnished.
Santa Cruz will enter the Barclays Center as the favourite but the Ulsterman is expected to have the majority of fans in his favour, something which will be a new experience for the three-weight-world champion who has fought mostly on the west coast of America.
“It won’t really matter because once fight night comes, it’s only going to be me and Carl in the ring,” said Santa Cruz.
“The fans are the people, they’re not the ones fighting in the ring with us. It’s going to be a great fight. You have to go over there and make new fans, and you go make a great fight.
“There is no pressure on me. I know he might have the bigger crowd but I’m just going to do what I need to do to get the win,” he said.
27-year-old Santa Cruz, who is unbeaten in 33 fights, has admitted that he has not seen much of the Belfast dynamo but that the little he has witnessed is a clear indication that he will need to be at his explosive best on the night.
“I have watched very few fights of him, but I’d say the little I have watched, he’s a great fighter. He has everything. He has great skills. He has good footwork, great punches, and he has great power,” said Santa Cruz.
“His style is kind of like a Mexican style. He comes forward – a sign of a great fighter. And his style and my style are going to make for an interesting fight. We are going to go toe-to-toe. We’re going to go out there and give a great fight for all the fans,” he said.
Frampton goes into the fight on a high following his victory over bitter rival Scott Quigg in February, a win which saw him unify the world title belts at super-bantamweight.
Santa Cruz, though, says that he will fight a different fight to how Quigg approached his meeting with 29-year-old Frampton, stating he will be constant in backing him up.
“I’m not going to be like Scott Quigg. Scott Quigg wasn’t trained as much to come forward and he was more careful. He was more on the outside. I think none of them were going to risk it,” Santa Cruz said.
“They didn’t want to take chances and none of them wanted to get caught – but not me. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to make it a fight.
“I’m going to make him fight me. I’m going to go out there, pressure him and pressure him so that he’ll have no other choice but to stop and fight with me,” he said.