Just half a year ago, we saw Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) face off against then undefeated Featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) in a 2016 Fight of the Year candidate, with Frampton edging Santa Cruz.
This past Saturday night, Santa Cruz avenged his loss to the Jackal. Judging by the mutual respect displayed by both fighters leading up to the fight and in the post-fight interviews, a trilogy bout is the most likely outcome for both men.
In the rematch, Frampton found himself being outboxed by Santa Cruz who more often than not, tends to break away from game plans and begin to slug with opponents.
“He told me what he was going to do. The brawler was out-boxing the boxer,” said Frampton after the bout. “My fault. I’m sorry. We will have to do it again. We have to do it again.”
Santa Cruz was quick to offer the rematch just moments after regaining his 126-pound title. “I went to the gym and I worked hard, and I did what I had to do,” said Santa Cruz. “Carl Frampton is a good fighter. Let’s make it a third fight!”
Frampton kept his composure in defeat and owned up to his mistakes throughout the fight. “It was a very tough fight. Some of the rounds were close. I really think Leo deserved it,” said Frampton.
“He was very clever and he used his reach. I think he deserved it. I’m being honest. I think he deserved it. But it was a very good fight. I think I can perform slightly better. No excuses,” said Frampton.
According to the Jackal, Santa Cruz verbally agreed to a trilogy should he have one the rematch and offered to even have the rubber match in Ireland, Frampton’s home.
“I want to fight in Belfast next,” said Frampton. “That’s what I want to do. I feel like I’ve been on the road for two years now. My fans are having to pay a lot of money to support me and I want to thank them. I would like to repay them with a fight at home and hopefully that can happen. But again, I think the decision was fair tonight. I think it was fair in the first fight. So let’s get it right and settle the score in number three.”
Santa Cruz seemed open to the idea of heading to Belfast, but also made it clear that he does have other options, should he want to hold off the trilogy.
“If they want to make a trilogy, I’m up for it. But there are many options out there, too,” said Santa Cruz. The options to unify titles against the likes of fellow titleholders such as Lee Selby, Gary Russell Jr, or my personal favorite option Oscar Valdez, are strong possibilities.
Santa Cruz followed up these statements and seemed optimistic about making the trip the Frampton’s home. “I know the crowd will be all for him and it’s going to be really hard. I’m willing to go over there. A true champion goes anywhere,” said Santa Cruz.
Frampton may very well have similar options as Santa Cruz, but the champion inside him will most likely lean him towards the rubber match. Hopefully, the Jackal gets what was promised and brings Santa Cruz over to Belfast.