Carl Frampton confident he holds all the aces in Las Vegas

The Belfast boxer takes on Leo Santa Cruz in their WBA featherweight title rematch

Carl Frampton is convinced last July's victory over Leo Santa Cruz ensures he holds the "psychological edge" in Saturday's rematch in Las Vegas.

The 29-year-old makes the first defence of the WBA featherweight title he won when inflicting the first defeat of Santa Cruz’s career, via a majority decision, and has been recognised since as among the world’s finest fighters.

Saturday’s fight at the MGM Grand also represents his second at 126lbs, providing the advantage of further time and experience to adjust to the weight division he first stepped up to to challenge the Mexican.

A summer fight between Frampton and Wales’ Lee Selby is planned, so Frampton can also succeed where his manager and mentor Barry McGuigan did not in defending the very same title in Vegas and bringing it back to the UK.


“Going into this fight, I have the psychological edge,” Frampton said in Vegas. “This is my second fight at featherweight, so I’m getting more used to the weight.

“I feel more comfortable overall this time.”

In 1986 and near his peak, McGuigan — now 55 and whose son Shane trains Frampton — lost when making his third defence of the WBA title, against America’s Steve Cruz in Las Vegas.

He fought only four more times, losing the last to Englishman Jim McDonnell before retiring, but despite the similarities in their career Frampton is adamant this fight’s location — with Santa Cruz expecting home support — has no significance.

“It means absolutely nothing to me that I am fighting him here,” he said. “I am going to beat him again but this time more convincingly.

“Taking off four pounds to make super-bantamweight was affecting my performance. I prefer being up here at featherweight. I really feel like a different man.

“I’m more happy with everything and I’m able to put a bit more into the sessions now but I can eat more.”

Frampton — the more rounded of the two fighters and the one recognised as having the superior boxing IQ — won July’s fight largely because of his ability to adjust.

Santa Cruz is one of the world’s leading pressure fighters but is yet to demonstrate he can adapt in the same way as the champion, and therefore recognises only a career-best performance will allow him to succeed.

“I can use my distance and box if I wanted to,” the 28-year-old said. “But I want to brawl. I’m going to do a little bit of everything.

“I’m going to be the smarter fighter.

“I need to really fight the best fight of my career. This is a huge fight and it’s the main event in Las Vegas. This is what I dreamed of.”