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Wayne McCullough predicts Las Vegas rerun of Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz

Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton in action in Las Vegas last Saturday night  
Andy Watters

CARL Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz III could happen in Belfast, but Wayne McCullough predicts a return to Las Vegas.

McCullough was at ringside at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night and says fellow Belfast fighter Frampton has nothing to be ashamed of after losing for the first time in his career.

Santa Cruz – the man he had dethroned in July – bounced back to force a deserved majority verdict on the night after an impressive display of thinking boxing that left ‘the Jackal’ second best in a competitive fight.

“Carl has nothing to be ashamed of, it was a great fight and a close fight but Leo just fought better tonight,” said McCullough.

“He was smarter, when Carl was coming forward I thought he was looking for the big right hand too much and Santa Cruz was picking him off with a one-two and then moving away.

“It was a close fight and he has nothing to be ashamed of, believe me. Your first loss is your hardest – my first loss was a split decision against Daniel Zaragoza that it was controversial, it was devastating.

“Leo’s dad had cancer before the first fight and it showed tonight - he was there and Leo fought a little bit better. It must have affected him a little bit. Carl was focusing on the big punch a bit too much. The last time he was jabbing, jabbing and jabbing and in a close fight like that you have to steal the rounds.”

The pendulum swung Santa Cruz’s way because he was able to correct the mistakes he made when the featherweight rivals met in Brooklyn last July. Now, the onus is on Frampton to come up with a new gameplan – he wants the third installment of this engrossing rivalry at Windsor Park, but boxing business could dictate a return to ‘Sin City’.

“The last time Carl would move round to his left in circles and Leo wouldn’t cut him off,” explained McCullough.

“Leo made him come forward a bit tonight and open up and Leo had faster hands. He would throw four punches and Carl would throw two. But it was a close fight and Carl has nothing to be ashamed of, he gave the fans what they wanted and he deserves a third fight. Will it happen? Maybe. But the politics of boxing…

“I think it could happen in Belfast, but I think the money is here. The money is bigger here at the MGM. It wasn’t full tonight and I think next time it’ll be filled. East LA were here, there were a lot of Mexicans and I think next time both sides will have the place full – 15,000 people for sure.

“Leo is the champion now so they’d have to pay him huge money to go to Belfast and if you put the show on over there you’re not going to sell tickets for $1000 each are you? Over here they can do that.

“New York is good too but Santa Cruz is in the drivers’ seat now and it’s like Connor McGregor, it’s MGM, MGM… That’s where the money is. The gate alone is millions and then you’ve got TV on top of that. It’s not all about the money, but the guys want to fill their pockets too.”

The Frampton camp went into the fight supremely confident of victory – and very few pundits disagreed with them. After a sluggish start ‘The Jackal’ clawed his way back into the fight and there was nothing in it after eight rounds, but Santa Cruz pulled away down the home stretch.

“The first couple of rounds it looked like Carl was going walk through him – maybe he thought that in his mind,” said McCullough.

“Maybe he thought he was going to get a knockout but when you look for a knockout you don’t get it, you just have to let it happen. I’m a huge fan of Carl and I would love him to get the third fight, I really think he can win it.”


LIGHTWEIGHT contender Paul Hyland jnr tops the bill on the MHD Promotions and A McLean Bookmakers ‘Inquisition’ card at the Europa Hotel on Saturday night.

Now undefeated in 13 fights, Hyland knows another good win on Saturday night will take him into the British top 10 ranking and within touching distance of a crack at British champion Scotty Cardle. ‘Hylo’ faces undefeated Hungarian Karloy Gallovich (8-0) who aims to stay unbeaten himself in what looks another exciting match-up.

“Several names fell through for this show and we know the danger of facing an unknown and undefeated prospect,” said coach Paul Hyland snr.

“But it will be a statement of intent for Paul in his quest to become British champion. We have seen recently with Stephen Ormond’s defeat at the hands of a Hungarian prospect that you can’t take anyone for granted.”

Promoter Mark Dunlop added: “Paul has all the tools in his box is very capable of beating Gallovich.”

Meanwhile, Ronnie ‘The Shark’ Clark aims to bounce back to winning ways following his close British Super Featherweight defeat to Martin J Ward in London in November, He faces strong Nicaraguan Rafael Castillo who is now based in Spain and many feel Clark could end up fighting his former Celtic Nations foe Anthony Cacace for the British title by the summer.

The remainder of the six-fight show sees undefeated lightweights Joe Fitzpatrick (Belfast) and Feargal McCrory (Coalisland) get their 2017 campaign underway. Dublin duo Lynn Harvey and Jay Byrne complete the line-up.

Tickets are priced at £75 (VIP Ringside, including a four-course meal), £45 (reserved ringside) and £35 (unreserved). Tel. 07712 473905 or Email: or contact the boxers.

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