Belfast sensation Carl Frampton has opened the door to a spectacular world title showdown with Leo Santa Cruz next year.
The WBC super-bantamweight champion, Santa Cruz, called out the Ulsterman ahead of his fight with undefeated Cesar Seda, naming him as a potential opponent for a mega bout in 2014.
Frampton is currently the mandatory challenger for Kiko Martinez’s IBF world title, raising the stakes in a future matchup with Santa Cruz, should he triumph over the Spaniard once again, having stopped him in nine rounds when they met last February.
The 26-year-old, however, is eager to share the ring with the all-action Santa Cruz as soon as possible and believes he would have his number should the pair collide.
“I think I beat him,” Frampton said. “I don’t know if I stop him or if I beat him on points. He’s very easily hit. He reminds of a smaller version of Antonio Margarito, and you saw what Manny Pacquiao did to him - Pacquiao is obviously a world class fighter, an amazing fighter and probably my favourite fighter – but it’s movement,” he said.
“People with that sort of style they can’t really seem to deal with movement and if you’re moving around them and hitting them hard while you’re doing it, that’s what’s going to be their downfall and I can certainly do that,” Frampton said.
The Irishman does not believe that the perceived gulf in class between WBA Super champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and Santa Cruz, compared with the rest, is a fair reflection of how the 122 pound division truly shapes up.
“A lot of people have said that it would be a great fight [against Santa Cruz] and I believe it would be a great fight. People think him and Rigondeaux are head and shoulders above every other super-bantamweight in the world but I don’t see it like that,” he said.
“I see Rigondeaux as the main man and I think I’m a better fighter than Santa Cruz – I honestly do,” Frampton said.
Frampton also sees flaws in Santa Cruz’s approach which he is confident he can exploit.
“I think he can easily be hit. Although he’s tough, he’s a bantamweight who’s moved up to super-bantamweight. I know for a fact if I was fighting him, I don’t think he would be so keen to walk forward with his hands held high if I was hitting him round the head all the time,” he said.
“You have got to give him credit because it’s worked so far in his career but a fight between me and Santa Cruz is something I relish because that sort of style is perfect for me,” said Frampton.
Managed by the legendary Barry McGuigan, who enjoyed a huge fan following, Frampton is himself no stranger to an adoring legion of supporters having sold out the 11,000 seater Odyssey Arena in Belfast, in his last fight against Jeremy Parodi.
The fan favourite, however, is aware he will need to cross the pond to get a fight with the Mexican sensation Santa Cruz and is convinced the fight can happen in 2014.
“The fight could definitely happen next year,” said Frampton “It would be a massive fight the more I keep winning, particularly if I bring a world title to the table, it’s going to be more appealing to Santa Cruz and his team,” he said.
“I know he’s with Golden Boy and I’m an Irish guy from Belfast - and we all know what the Americans think of good Irish fighters. Potentially that could be a big fight in America, or even here [Belfast], but if you want to fight someone of Leo Santa Cruz’s calibre you have to go over to the States because Golden Boy really rate him,” he continued.
“You want big fights at home but I’ve always said I would like to fight over in the States one day - so why not fight Leo Santa Cruz over there?,” Frampton stated.
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- Carl Frampton