BOXING: Frampton vows to bring belt back to Belfast

Carl Frampton with the world title belt.
Carl Frampton with the world title belt.

Carl Frampton has vowed to bring his WBA Featherweight World title back to Belfast.

Tonight the WBA champion will, for the second time in seven months, face Leo Santa Cruz for the belt in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas after taking the title away from the Mexican in New York last July.

That toe-to-toe encounter was a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender as both gave it their all for 12 rounds at the Barclay Centre in Brooklyn.

Frampton got the decision that night and he is determined to bring the belt home with him from the Nevada desert.

“There is no doubt in my mind the belt is coming back with me,” he said. “I have trained so hard and sacrificed so much to get here, I am not letting this belt go.

“Thousands have also travelled over to watch the fight and I can’t let them down. I really appreciate their support.

“2016 was a huge year for me and I want 2017 to be as good, or even better, but to do that I have to beat Santa Cruz and I will do that,” he added.

Frampton says he has a huge amount of respect for his Mexican rival.

“He is a three-weight World champion, a tough guy and a great fighter and this will be a very tough fight, like the first one.

“But I made loads of mistakes in the first fight and if I cut those out I believe I will win more convincingly. I have been knocking guys out in sparring and I feel very strong at this weight.

“If the knock-out comes great - but if it doesn’t I am ready for 12 hard rounds.”

There has been talk of a huge fight at Windsor Park in the summer against IBF World champ Lee Selby - who also defends his title in Vegas tonight - but Frampton says he is focused on the job at hand.

“Selby at Windsor would be great but we both have to win in Vegas. At this moment in time I am totally focused on Santa Cruz. I have to do a good job against him, defend my title and then we will see what is next,” he added.