Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz mark two will be even better claims Sam Watson

Carl Frampton faces California's Leo Santa Cruz for the second time in Las Vegas on January 28

SAM WATSON, the public face of Al Haymon’s boxing organisation, predicts Carl Frampton’s second battle with Leo Santa Cruz will be even better than last summer’s all-action 12-round rumble in New York.

Both fighters are promoted by renowned US mogul Haymon and Watson, his long-term spokesman, predicts that the Frampton-Santa Cruz rivalry will extend to a third meeting. Of course, for that to happen the Mexican has to win in Las Vegas on January 28 and Watson doesn’t rule it out.

“The first fight was so close,” he said.

“It was a fantastic fight and this one is going to be better in Vegas because there’ll be more people coming out for both sides. It’ll be a great fight.

“A lot of the rounds in the second fight are going to be close too. It ain’t gonna change that much - it’s gonna be a great fight. Leo took his fight loss in New York but these two are warriors and they are going to fight a great fight.”

He added: “The first fight lived up to expectations and this one will too.

“Leo was worried about his father who had cancer. He fought well but he can fight a little better and I’m sure Frampton can fight a little better too. This will be one of the biggest fights of 2017 - it’s the first big fight in Las Vegas, but then everything is big in Vegas.”

Watson obviously believes there is better to come from Santa Cruz in the rematch at the MGM Grand. ‘El Terremoto’ threw over 1000 punches at Frampton in New York but ‘the Jackal’ always looked in control of the fight.

“Losing hurt Leo a lot,” said Watson.

“I didn’t see him crying, but I’m sure he did. He’s not used to losing, he’s a winner and Frampton is a winner too. They’ve already had one fight and they’re going to fight harder and stronger in Vegas. Somebody could get knocked out at any time.”

Taking Santa Cruz’s title catapulted Frampton into the coveted list of the world’s top 10 pound-for-pound fighters. Watson predicts that winning the rematch will make the Tigers Bay featherweight a global superstar.

“If he can beat Leo Santa Cruz twice it will make a big difference in his career,” he said.

“Beating Leo Santa Cruz twice is big. Leo is a tough Mexican fighter but he loves people, he loves everybody. He’ll take pictures and sign autographs with anybody, he’s a real nice guy who has everything going for him and you don’t meet good guys like that all the time.

“If Frampton beats him again it puts Frampton in a hell of a spot because Frampton is hungry, he wants it, he wants to come to the United States and do his thing, he wants to come to Las Vegas and be on the big stage.

“This fight will be huge and I believe there are going to be three fights. Santa Cruz has to win in Vegas first though and Frampton is my guy too so may the best man win.”

Al Haymon - who has overseen the careers of Floyd Mayweather jnr, Amir Khan, Paulie Malignaggi and many others - is rarely seen or interviewed. Watson says the promoter “just wants big fights”.

“This one is as big as you can get and everybody wants to see it,” he added.

“The first one was a great fight and the second one could go either way. I think Leo thought, because he was the champion he would get a little extra edge but he’ll have to do more.

“It’s a great fight for TV or to be there live. I went to Manchester with Floyd Mayweather and the fans were singing ‘There’s only ooooooonnnnnnnne Ricky Hatton and you get the same stuff here. It’s great for the fight business.”


Unbeaten lightweight Paul Hyland headlines ‘Inquisition’ at the Europa Hotel, Belfast on February 4

UNBEATEN lightweight Paul Hyland headlines ‘Inquisition’ at the Europa Hotel, Belfast on February 4.

Hyland (13-0), now ranked 11 in the British rankings, will have his first 10 rounder on the MHD Promotions/A McClean Bookmakers show and he knows that a couple more wins will see him match his stablemates James Tennyson and Ronnie Clark by getting a shot at the British title.

Last year Hyland racked up four wins and he has waited patiently for two years for a shot at the Irish title only to see potential opponents back out. That dream seems to be over so he has now set his sights on bigger prizes.

“Paul has been brought along nicely and has great ambition, dedication and talent,” said manager Mark Dunlop.

“This will be a big year for him and the stable. I have helped a lot of lads fulfil ambitions and Paul deserves all the success he is about to have.”

Chief support on the night will come from Ronnie Clark (17-4-2) who is back in full training following an exciting British title challenge in November against the WBC world ranked number 10 Martin J Clark.

The undercard includes Joe Fitzpatrick (6-0) who will have his first six-rounder. The former Commonwelath Games silver medallist is hoping to get his career back on track after a quiet 2016 during which he won two from two but picked up a few injuries on the way.

Coalisland’s Fergal ‘Fearless’ McCrory (3-0) has his third fight for MHD Promotions in what is expected to be his last four round contest before stepping up to six-round level.

Meanwhile, Dublin light-middleweight Jay ‘Sugar’ Byrne (2-0) returns to the Europa in search of another victory in the Irish fight capital. Tickets are priced at £75 (VIP Ringside including a four-course meal), £45 (reserved ringside) and £35 (unreserved). Call 07712 473905 or email: or contact the boxers


JAMES DE GALE says the “fear factor” he needs to give him the edge he needs to beat Badou Jack on Saturday night has returned.

DeGale (23-1) and Jack clash for the WBC and IBF super-middleweight title at the Barlcays Center in Brooklyn, New York and Londoner ‘Chunky’ predicts “a battle” against the Swede (20-1-2) who beat his long-term rival George Groves last year.

“Even my haters and doubters have to give me respect now,” he said.

“I’ve been on the road a long time and this next fight is another battle. It makes me think of [Andre] Dirrell. I had the fear going into that fight. It was a genuine 50-50 and I knew if I wasn’t on my game I was going to get beat.

“He was a confident American and him and his brothers were talking trash. So I had that fear factor. I didn’t have it the last two fights. I knew I was the champ. I knew I was better than them, but against Dirrell I was the most edgy I’d ever felt.

"Same with this fight.”

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