Tuesday 23 January 2018

"We want to give our children a better life" - Carl Frampton opens up ahead of Las Vegas showdown

World Featherweight champion Carl Frampton is pictured during a press conference for the WBA World Featherweight title rematch with Leo Santa Cruz at the Europa Hotel on November 29, 2016 in Belfast
World Featherweight champion Carl Frampton is pictured during a press conference for the WBA World Featherweight title rematch with Leo Santa Cruz at the Europa Hotel on November 29, 2016 in Belfast

Sean McGoldrick in Las Vegas

Next door to where they will fight for the WBA world featherweight title on Saturday night, Ireland’s Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz sat together for nearly 90 minutes at a packed final press conference in the MGM in Las Vegas.

Described by Frampton's manager, Barry McGuigan as the 'Mecca of Boxing' it is a dream come true for both fighters to be topping the bill on a card which includes three world title fights at this iconic venue.

Even though the rivalry between Frampton and Santa Cruz is rapidly developing into one of the most exciting in the lower weight divisions in professional boxing, the respect which the protagonists hold for each other is as unusual as it is striking.

“We for both fighting for the same thing – our families,” declared Santa Cruz who lost the original fight on points in New York last summer, with the sentiments echoed by his opponent.

“We want to give our children a better life than we had,” declared Frampton, who appeared to be in great shape for the biggest fight of his life.

The build-up to the last fight was overshadowed in the Santa Cruz camp by the illness of the boxer's father, trainer and mentor Jose Santa Cruz.

Though he was in his corner on the night of the fight and was able to oversee the latter stages of his training camp, he was undergoing treatment of myeloma, a cancer of the blood that builds up in bone marrow and attacks healthy blood cells.

He is now in remission and was present to today's press conference having been fully involved in his son's preparation. But another example of the mutual respect between the two boxers is that Frampton twice declined to say that he thought Santa Cruz was using his father's illness as an excuse for his first defeat.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz touched on the dilemma he faces when he steps into the ring for his scheduled 12 round clash against the defending title holder - only the second fighter to win two World titles at different weights.

“All Mexican fighters like to give their fans a good fight. I always go out and make it a war. I could fight at distance but I never do. I want to entertain the fans,” said the Mexican-American who has a seven-inch reach advantage over Frampton.

Santa Cruz did promise to fight 'smarter'. 'I don't have to brawl. I am going to keep my distance and be smart and try and do what I have to do to win this fight. I think this fight is going to be a lot better than the first one.”

The Frampton camp believe, however, that Santa Cruz won't change his style – he will come forward as he always does.

“I think that this fight will be like the last one; it cannot be otherwise. Both of us will do whatever it takes to win this fight.

“I'm excited and feel I am going to win. I want to send all my travelling supporters home very happy,” said Frampton.

Up to 4,000 fans have travelled from Ireland and the UK for the fight, inspiring promoter Richard Schaefer to joke that he had told the MGM management to order more beer in on Saturday night.

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