Carl Frampton is moving up one weight division to fight the current WBA (Super) Featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz in New York City on Saturday night (30 July). The bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is, without question, the toughest of the Northern Irishman's 22-fight professional career.
How to watch
The Leo Santa Cruz vs Carl Frampton will be screened live in the United Kingdom on Box Nation online, or via channel 437 on Sky and 546 on Virgin.
Frampton comes into this much-anticipated clash in New York a few months after defeating his long-time rival Scott Quigg via a points decision in Manchester. That victory maintained his unbeaten record as a professional. But the tedious nature of that fight left many fans feeling short-changed and the Northern Irishman has responded by accepting the toughest fight of his life.
Once again, Frampton has agreed to fight outside of his home city of Belfast and has even stepped up one weight division to face the unbeaten Mexican. It is certainly a risk for Frampton, who could easily have continued to appear in front of his adoring supporters back home, but has instead opted for a much sterner challenge.
In Santa Cruz, he is a facing a taller, bigger and more experienced opponent - and one who, like the Northern Irishman, has never tasted defeat in the professional ranks. Santa Cruz is a three-weight world champion and at 27, ought to be at or near the peak of his athletic prowess.
The Mexican's attention, in the build up to the fight, has been partially distracted by his father's ongoing battle against cancer. However, he will be in attendance at his son's fight and Santa Cruz is delighted to have him in his corner for the bout.
What they have said
Santa Cruz: "I am so happy my father is here with us. We thought he might not be able to make it, but thank God he is here with us. Not having my dad here in New York with me would have been hard. It actually brought tears to my eyes.
"But I am very happy that he is here and will be in my corner for my fight. Thank you to all of the people who are here and all of the people that support me. I am so happy to be here and hopefully I can make you all proud and put on a great show this Saturday night."
Frampton: "This is the fight I wanted and I'm 100 per cent confident that the belt will be coming home to Belfast. Santa Cruz is a strong and aggressive undefeated champion, but his style is made for me.
"Myself and my team have been chasing this fight for a long, long time and that's because we know we have the tools to beat Leo. He throws a lot of shots and is a proven operator, it's going to be a great fight."
Santa Cruz: 33 fights, 32 wins, 1 draw (18 via knockout)
- (W) Kiko Martínez - technical knockout - February 2016
- (W) Abner Mares - split decision - August 2015
- (W) Jose Cayetano - unanimous decision - February 2015
Frampton: 22 fights, 22 wins (14 via knockout)
- (W) Scott Quigg- split decision - February 2016
- (W) Alejandro González Jr. - unanimous decision - July 2015
- (W) Chris Avalos - technical knockout - February 2015
Stepping up one weight division could easily undermine Frampton's punching power, thereby making a knockout win seem like an improbable prospect for the Northern Irishman, especially in light of his uninspiring performance against Quigg.
However, both of these guys have good boxing skills and will be reluctant to allow the contest to become a brawl. Consequently, bigger and more experienced fight is the pre-fight favourite to win via decision.
Odds (via Betfair)
- Santa Cruz 4/9
- Frampton 9/4
- Draw 18/1