Hugo Cazares looking forward to Belfast bout with Carl Frampton
Mexican fighter Hugo Cazares says he is enjoying his time in Belfast, adding victory over Carl Frampton on Friday night will round off a memorable time in Ireland.
The Mexican boxer arrived in Belfast last week well wrapped up against the chilly March weather, but is confident ahead of the WBC super-bantamweight title eliminator at the Odyssey on Friday.
El Incredible, as he's known to his fans, was flanked by his coach Eduardo Montiel and brother Fernando, a three-times world champion who's regarded as one of the best Mexican boxers of all-time, when I met him.
"I like this city," Cazares said, fixing me with a dead-eyed stare. "I feel like this is home. I've won all my titles on the road. I feel confident being here."
It's an intriguing match up. Frampton, unbeaten in 17, has won 12 by knock-out. Under the guidance of Barry McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions, he's made steady progress through the division, picking up the Commonwealth title by beating Steve Molitor and demolishing Kiko Martinez to clinch the European title, which he successfully defended against Jeremy Parodi.
An impressive win against Cazares would be sure to propel Frampton into the major league with a world title fight, possibly in Las Vegas, with champion Leo Santa Cruz.
But southpaw Cazares represents another major step on the ladder for the Belfast fighter. He's an experienced campaigner. At 36, with a record of 40-7-2, 27 KOs, he's already been world champion at two different weights and has more world title bouts to his credit than Frampton has had professional fights.
McGuigan certainly doesn't underestimate the threat Cazares imposes.
"He's a super fighter and believes he's here to win," he says.
"He can hit you from any angle at any time. He punches very hard and he carries speed. He's a switch fighter who can box going back or moving forward. Most fighters recoil a bit when they get hit hard but when Cazares gets hit hard it just seems to motivate him."
Knowing the task ahead, McGuigan and his son Shane, who's Frampton's coach, have prepared diligently for this one.
"I know this is going to be the toughest fight of my career," says Frampton.
"That's why I've trained so hard. I've done fifteen weeks camp in total. I've done between 220 and 230 rounds of sparring. I've put the work in. I feel I've done enough in training and I'm young and fresh enough to get the win."
Cazares shrugs off Frampton's bullish optimism like he's heard it all before. "I was young once and unbeaten too," he says. "The years have brought me a lot of experience. I haven't been beaten up in any of my fights. I've been very careful with my body. I've fought some very difficult fighters and I have the experience that's necessary to beat Carl."
"He's in unbelievable shape," McGuigan says of Frampton.
"Both physically and psychologically. He's ripped and totally focused on a win. This will be a very tough fight, a real acid test for him but I'm confident Carl will win emphatically."
The event in the Odyssey sold out in ten days and Golden Boy Promotions will have their people at ringside on Friday. A big win by Frampton could ensure some gala nights and mega-paydays in the future.
"I want to be world champion," says Frampton. "The super bantamweight division is a tough division. There are no easy fights now.
“Each one is harder than the last. To get to fight Santa Cruz I have to beat this guy. He has a dream of becoming a three weight world champion.
“He sees the fight as earning an all-Mexican showdown with Santa Cruz. That's what he's here for. That's why it's going to be a hell of a fight."