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Santa Cruz: Frampton could be next & it could be a Fight of the Year

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

Leo Santa Cruz will adjust his glare towards rising star Carl Frampton should he prevail in his upcoming fight. He’s facing Cristian Mijares on the Toe to Toe Canelo vs. Angulo undercard, but he knows a challenge from Frampton could be next.

Both men are renowned for their come-forward, whirlwind boxing style that has captured the imagination of both casual and hardcore fans alike.

The pair seem destined to cross paths in the very near future with Frampton fighting in a WBC eliminator in his next fight in April against Hugo Cazares, with the victor set to get a shot at Santa Cruz’s title.

Speaking to BoxNation, ahead of his bout with Mijares – which will feature on the undercard of the all Mexican affair between Canelo Alvarez and Alfredo Angulo at the MGM Grand – Santa Cruz is eyeing a showdown with the popular Frampton should he win.

Santa Cruz has taken notice of the Belfast blaze Frampton as he has blitzed his way past a host of top line contenders in recent outings. It is this exciting and crowd-pleasing style which Santa Cruz believes could make for an instant classic when the pair finally square-off in the ring, though he is not expecting it to last the full twelve rounds.

“Carl’s been saying he wants to fight me and I’ve seen him in a couple of fights. He’s a great fighter, undefeated, he comes forward like me and throws parallel punches and pressures a lot. So I think it would make a really great fight for the fans.

“If I win my next fight and he wins his, it could be the next fight which happens. He’s in an eliminator to fight me in his fight, so if our managers can work out something I think it can definitely happen next if we both come through and win.

“I come forward; he comes forward, so there will be no running. I think it will be a fight where we are both in the middle of the ring, giving a war and I think neither of us is going to want to go back.

“It could be ‘Fight of the Year’. I don’t think the fight would go the distance; it could finish before the twelve rounds the way that we will fight.

“I think he [Frampton] comes forward well, and is strong, always pressuring. But I think he drops his hands too much – I think that’s one of the mistakes he does. I could catch him or I could work the body and finish him right there.”

Frampton’s popularity in Northern Ireland has seen him sell out arena-after-arena in his last few fights and Santa Cruz is open to crossing the Atlantic, possibly as early as this September.

“It doesn’t matter to me where I fight him. It’s up to wherever my manager and promoter think the best place is. I’ll fight him wherever. If they want me to fight him in Ireland, I’ll come over and fight him in Ireland. If they want me to fight him here [United States], I’ll fight him here.

Wherever they make the fight I’m willing to battle him.

“I think the fight is likely for between September-November around those months. After this fight [against Mijares] I’ll take a little break and get ready for those months because it’s a big fight, so we have to have a little more time to get ready for it.”

The 25-year-old has more pressing matters on his mind for now though, as he faces a tricky opponent in the slick Mijares who is a former world champion and a well-schooled campaigner.

Having won 49 contests in his 58 fights, the southpaw will be looking to tear up the script about any future plans Santa Cruz may have, but the man known as ‘Terremoto’ is refusing to over look the experienced Mijares.

“Mijares is a great fighter, a complicated lefty. He’s going to try and box but I’m ready to go out there and pressure him a lot. I’m going to let my hands go and do what I’ve been doing in the gym to beat him.

“His main strengths are his combinations and his lateral movement. I think he’ll be moving around the ring and trying to throw one, two, three, and then move, trying to beat me like that on points.

“He’ll be trying to counterpunch me but I’ll be cutting off the ring, we’re not going to allow him to do that. I’ll try and break him down so that he won’t run and we can beat him like that.”