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The success of 'The Jackal'

Frampton's win over Scott Quigg  in February has been the catalyst for landing more big fights

SHAUN BROWN

From now on Carl Frampton wants the biggest fights possible.
  
And who can blame him?
  
2016 has already given him his two biggest fights and two biggest victories to date. Scott Quigg was out-thought in Manchester in a world super bantamweight unification, while Leo Santa Cruz was out-fought in Brooklyn, and deprived of his WBA Super World featherweight title.

If 2016 isn’t deemed The Year of the Jackal then 2017 very well might be, and it all kicks off on January 28 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas with a rematch against Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs).

“It was a brilliant fight the last time,” Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) told Talking Boxing and RING magazine's Tom Gray on a night when his friend and Cyclone Promotions stablemate Josh Taylor began his own title path with a five-round dismantling of Dave Ryan to win the Commonwealth super lightweight title.

“I was disappointed with how the Quigg fight panned out because it could have been a great fight. It had the potential to be a good fight but it wasn’t,” he continued.

“It wasn’t a good spectacle. People want to see blood and guts, and they got that with Santa Cruz. To be honest I enjoyed it. It was my hardest fight to date. I liked it, and I look forward to the next one as well.”

Frampton and Santa Cruz produced one of 2016’s genuine fight of the year candidates at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. A 12-round battle that ebbed and flowed, but one where Frampton regularly seemed to have the upper hand as they bombarded one another with punch after punch.

And while the 29-year-old champion is expecting a similar and tough assignment like the one back in July, he believes he has seen everything that the 28-year-old challenger has to offer.

“I don’t think Santa Cruz can change too much if I’m being honest. He has 30 odd fights as a professional and it’s been the same style throughout. And people are saying he’s going to come out and throw more punches. He threw 1100 punches in the last fight! I don’t think he can throw much more. I believe next fight I’ll beat him more convincingly.”

In the second round of their first fight, with chants of “Ole, ole, ole” bellowing from the travelling Irish support, Frampton hurt Santa Cruz with a left hook that saw his opponent stagger in what had already been an electrifying encounter. Will Frampton look to be the first man to stop the Mexican in their rematch?

“If you stop someone like Leo Santa Cruz then that’s huge,” he said.

“I’ll be going out there fully focused on the fight and that’s it. I believe I’ve got the power to stop him. I hurt him in the second round, he hasn’t really been hurt in fights before. I made mistakes myself. I could’ve been capitalising on his mistakes a bit more than I was, but hopefully I’ll learn from the first fight and put in a better performance.

“The plan was to hit him hard from the start and make him respect me. Although he was throwing a lot of punches he was throwing them from far out, and he didn’t want to get too close. That was because he was getting hurt and nailed when he was coming in. It was important to hurt him early on and I think we done that. It’ll be the same plan for the next fight, hurt him with every shot.”

Frampton v Santa Cruz 2 is a mouth-watering start to 2017 for fans of ‘The Jackal’ and the sport in general. Two weeks prior James DeGale will look to unify the super middleweight division when he squares off against Badou Jack. With a welterweight unification showdown between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia on the cards for March 4 the appetite has been well and truly whetted. For Frampton, a second win against Santa Cruz could be the start of a very special 2017. One that could even top 2016.

“I’m hoping to get three fights so, potentially, 2017 could be a huge year.”

And one of those could be a 126lbs unification against IBF champion Lee Selby who was also in attendance last Friday night in Edinburgh to watch his brother Andrew in action.

“Lee’s here. Great fighter and that would be a huge fight, but I would like to do that one in Belfast at Windsor Park. It’s been refurbished, a state of the art arena. In the summer, why not? Whoever it may be, all the fights going to the end of my career I want them to be big fights.

“2016 was a great year but we’re starting it off with a bang with Santa Cruz in the early part [of next year]. Santa Cruz, Windsor Park in the summer at home and who knows what after that but I’d like to fight three times.

“I want to be involved in big fights. Names and the big venues, that’s what excites me. I don’t want to be fighting people I don’t know about.

“I want big names; Selby, Santa Cruz, Mares, (WBC champion) Gary Russell, (WBO champion) Valdez… all these guys. It’s important for me to be involved in big fights. I’m creating a bit of a legacy and also big names bring the big dough, and I want a bit of security for myself and my family.”

As Frampton’s reputation continues to grow around the world, so does the one belonging to his trainer Shane McGuigan. The 27-year-old hung up his own gloves six years ago and has since went on to become one of the sport’s most in-demand trainers. His squad of fighters not only features the blossoming talents of Conrad Cummings, Josh Taylor and Josh Pritchard, but contains a mix of a star power with Frampton, George Groves and David Haye.

Shane and Carl met in 2008 after each of them had won amateur titles in Belfast on the same night. Not long after McGuigan would go on to work Frampton’s corner in a part-time capacity before taking over after Frampton’s tenth professional fight against Robbie Turley.

Frampton is thrilled, not only at his own success but that of his trainer as well.

“He’s a brilliant trainer and I’ve been telling everyone for years he is, and I knew it was only a matter of time before big names like Groves and Haye would ask to train with him.

“He’s a class act, he really is. He knows the game inside out. He’s a young lad. It’s a strange situation that he’s younger than a lot of his fighters but he’s brilliant, he really is. I feel he’s helped me improve as a fighter. If you look at Groves’ performance against Martin Murray [it] was almost punch perfect and he needed that. He needed a big win. No disrespect to (Groves’ former trainer) Paddy Fitzpatrick [but] I believe if Shane was in his corner against Badou Jack he wins the fight.”

McGuigan’s gym in Battersea is turning into a powerhouse of British and world boxing. Youth, experience, skill and power combine to produce an all-star squad that is going from strength to strength. And Frampton says that everyone, including himself, reaps the benefits of working alongside the talents of fighters like Groves and Haye.

“I’ve done a lot in my own career but you look at guys like George Groves, I look up to him. I look up to David Haye, he’s a great fighter. For me it’s a travesty that George hasn’t won a world title yet. There’s lesser guys that are world champions at the minute, and they wouldn’t lace George Gloves’ boots… or gloves (laughs).

“I’d seen him in the gym, and I seen him up close and personal, and in my opinion he has the best jab I’ve ever seen. He hurts people with his jab. He’s a big lad and has really long arms and hurts people with the jab. It’s good to see and I believe Shane can bring him a world title.”