Carl Frampton en route back to the big time as Leo Santa Cruz 'positive' third fight will happen in 2019

Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz have both won a fight apiece, and a third showdown could be on the cards for next year. Picture by Presseye
Neil Loughran

AFTER an at-times frustrating 18 months, Carl Frampton looks set to explode back into the big time after Leo Santa Cruz said he was “positive” his rubber match with ‘The Jackal' would take place next year.

Since losing to Santa Cruz in January 2017 – the only defeat of a 27-fight pro career – Frampton has hooked up with trainer Jamie Moore, following his acrimonious split from manager Barry McGuigan and trainer Shane McGuigan.

And while he has notched up victories over Horacio Garcia, former four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire and Luke Jackson in the meantime, it is only now that the road back to the top of the super-featherweight division is really beginning to open up in front of Frampton.

In the aftermath of last month's huge event at Windsor Park, when the 31-year-old stopped little-known Australian Jackson in nine, promoter Frank Warren insisted Frampton's next fight would be against reigning IBF super-featherweight champion Josh Warrington.

That fight is expected to take place at the Manchester Arena towards the end of November, with Frampton posting on Twitter earlier this week that he was back in training “ready for the next victim”.

And, should he defeat Warrington, the door has been left ajar for another showdown Stateside next year after Santa Cruz indicated – in the strongest terms yet – that he was ready for a trilogy fight.

Both previous fights were epic encounters, with Frampton producing the performance of a lifetime to take the WBA belt home from New York in July 2016, only for Santa Cruz to win it back six months later.

And, speaking to FightHype, the Los Angeles-based Mexican suggested the third meeting between the pair could be just around the corner.

"Right now, we don't have any opponent. But I want to fight one more time this year, in November," who has chalked up wins over Chris Avalos and Abner Mares since ending Frampton's unbeaten record.

"I don't think it will be against any other champion. I think Oscar Valdez is fighting in November, and Carl Frampton has just fought too. I don't care who I fight.

"If I get the win, I want to fight Carl Frampton [after that]. People want that fight. I want that fight and Carl Frampton wants that fight. I want to make that third fight against him.

"I am pretty sure and positive that will happen next year. I have already talked to my team and they are pretty sure they can make that fight next year."

That will be music to the ears of Frampton, who has already signalled his intention to see out his career with some huge fights in America.

And a third fight with Santa Cruz has always been at the very top of his agenda.

“The guy I want to fight is Leo Santa Cruz,” he said last year.

“Trilogies are always a good thing, you have all these rivalries in boxing and a lot of guys have fought each other a number of times.

“It was hard after I lost, I was down in the dumps for a while and pretty depressed but, when I thought about it, I had a bad night, a bad performance and I lost a close fight to a three-weight world champion.

“He boxed out of his skin and I didn't perform but I still pushed him pretty hard. If I'm performing and on my game then I think I can beat him again.”

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