Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz sat down with SHOWTIME Sports reporter Mark Kriegel as they prepare for their eagerly anticipated rematch next Saturday, Jan. 28, from MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The interviews are the latest in a reoccurring SHOWTIME Sports digital series, THE REVEAL with Mark Kriegel, featuring exclusive and in-depth interviews with boxing’s emerging stars.
Frampton, the consensus 2016 Fighter of the Year who narrowly outpointed Santa Cruz to become a two-division titleholder last July on SHOWTIME, opens up about growing up during “The Troubles” in Belfast, his unique bond with Hall of Fame mentor Barry McGuigan, and how his legacy could forever be connected to Leo Santa Cruz.
A three-division world champion, Santa Cruz discusses the pain of his first defeat, the affect his father’s battle with cancer had on his training, his plans for the rematch and hope for a legendary rivalry.
Below are bites from the separate interviews:
KRIEGEL: “You make good on your father’s dream, and now you’re scared of him dying. The cancer – how did you train?”
SANTA CRUZ: “It was hard, it was hard to train, to concentrate. I still went to the gym and trained, (but) I didn’t train as hard. I didn’t train as the other fights because my dad wasn’t there. My dad was going to chemo, he was going to radiation…I thought to myself, maybe tomorrow he won’t wake up.”
KRIEGEL: “What did you tell your father after you lost?”
SANTA CRUZ: “I told my dad, sorry. I’m sorry we didn’t get the win and that I disappointed you. My dad told me, ‘that’s alright. You didn’t disappoint anybody. We’re going to get him in the rematch.’ ”
KRIEGEL: “Ali and Frazier had each other, Leonard and Duran had each other. In order to be recognized as a great fighter you need an epic antagonist. And for all the talk, you might actually have one in Leo.”
FRAMPTON: “I would like that – I would like a rivalry where in 20, 30 years from now people remember it. You always need a dance partner, and Leo Santa Cruz could be mine.”
KRIEGEL: Barry says you could end up as the greatest of all the Irish fighters. Aren’t you almost beyond that already? Aren’t the stakes already higher?
FRAMPTON: “No, potentially I could be. After Santa Cruz I want to continue to fight big names and be involved in big fights. There’s never been a Northern Irishman, apart from myself, to win a world title in two weight divisions. If I set my sights sometime in the future for the 130-pound division and become a three-weight world champion, I may feel comfortable calling myself the best Irish fighter of all time.”
KRIEGEL: “Barry represented a symbol of peace during one of the darkest times in Northern Ireland. What does Carl Frampton represent?”
FRAMPTON: “People want to look at me as a new figure for Northern Ireland. I’m a Protestant, married to a Catholic. This is a new age thing.”