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Boxing

Quality, not quantity, the key for Leo Santa Cruz in Carl Frampton rematch

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz at a Las Vegas photcall ahead of their rematch on January 28
Andy Watters

LEO Santa Cruz threw close to 100 punches a round throughout his points loss to Carl Frampton in New York.

Realistically, he can’t top that output in his Las Vegas rematch with ‘the Jackal’ on January 28 – but he can land more and for him that is the key to turning defeat into victory.

Speaking at the WBA featherweight title rivals’ press conference in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz said he had learned from his mistakes at the Barclays Center and predicts “ a lot better” at the MGM Grand.

“I learned from the first fight that every little mistake really matters,” he said.

“One or two could really cost you. I trained hard but my dad (Jose, who was battling cancer) wasn’t there and he wasn’t pressuring me like I’m used to.

“Those things come back to haunt you. It hurt, but it taught me that I have to leave it all in the ring and work every day for what I want.

“We’re going to be mentally and physically ready. I’m getting more motivation from having him there. We’ll be making some little changes and we’re going to do a lot better.”

LA-based Mexican Santa Cruz went into his first meeting with Frampton as an unbeaten favourite and three-weight world champion.

“I was a champion and now I’m a former champion,” he said.

“That makes me unhappy. We’re going to train hard and do our best to become a champion again.”

The New York fight was Frampton’s first at featherweight and – with arguably the greatest performance of his career – he fought his way to a deserved decision win. He feels he won the contest by “three or four rounds” and intends to win more decisively on January 28.

“When I fight people, I feel like I improve the second time,” he said.

“I have a good boxing brain and I can adapt to different situations

“The only person I’ve fought twice as a pro was Kiko Martinez and the second time I fought him I won comfortably because I learned from the first fight.

“I know everything about Leo - he fights the same way every single time.

“I know his training may not have been as focused last time as it could have been because of his father. I expect a better Leo Santa Cruz but, in terms of how he fights, I think he’ll fight the same way.

“He usually wears people down, but I have serious punching power and that could be the difference again.”

Frampton added: “If you want people to remember you in 20 or 30 years’ time, you need to fight guys like Leo Santa Cruz.

“We’ve already been working very hard in the gym and we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure I remain the champion and bring the title back home to Ireland.”

After losing in New York, Santa Cruz had hoped to stage the rematch in LA – with the Staples Center the likely venue. ‘El Terremoto’ didn’t get his wish but he is on familiar ground at the MGM where he has fought six times already winning world titles at bantamweight and super-bantamweight.

“Las Vegas is obviously a bit closer to home for Leo and I’m sure he’ll bring a lot of fans,” said Frampton.

“But I’m bringing at least 4,000 from the UK. Right now I’m the best-supported fighter in the UK. It’s a great privilege for me.

“The first one was considered a ‘Fight of the Year’ and I don’t think this can be any different. We’re going to kick-off 2017 with a bang.”

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