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Frampton eyes legacy defining Santa Cruz clashes

Frampton eyes legacy defining Santa Cruz clashes

Carl Frampton believes his rivalry with Leo Santa Cruz could move beyond their January rematch and come to rival some of boxing's great trilogies.

Former unified super-bantamweight champion Frampton stepped up to featherweight for the first time in July to dethrone WBA ruler Santa Cruz over 12 rollercoaster rounds in New York.

After winning a majority decision, Frampton stated his willingness to give three-weight world champion Santa Cruz a return bout and the two stars of the nine-stone division will face off once again at Las Vegas' MGM Grand on January 28.

Santa Cruz is set to enjoy the backing of a vocal Mexican contingent in Nevada and Frampton suggested the duo could emulate two other stars of the proud fighting nation as he evocated the celebrated exploits of Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales over their three showdowns spanning 2000 to 2004.

"There was a clause in the contract but if there hadn't have been I was happy to give him an immediate rematch," Frampton told reporters at a press event in Las Vegas, where he confirmed a similar stipulation is in place this time around.

"I feel that these are the fights that create legacy. You talk about Morales-Barrera and the rivalry they had. I could potentially have that with Leo Santa Cruz. I was genuinely happy to give him a rematch."

Frampton hopes to have a sizable amount of the crowd rooting against local favourite Santa Cruz and expects a significant travelling horde from the UK and Ireland to recall Ricky Hatton's famous Las Vegas jaunts a decade ago.

"I don’t think you'll ever see what Ricky Hatton did again, he brought 20,000 people form the UK to Vegas [when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr]," Frampton said.

"From the UK I'm the next best thing after Ricky Hatton. If I can bring a quarter of what he brought, which I think I may well do, that would be outstanding and a huge honour for me.

"It's not cheap to get from the UK and Ireland to Vegas, especially around Christmas time. I'm hoping they will come out and make a lot of noise."

One Irishman well versed in turning up the volume is UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who made waves this week by being granted a boxing licence in California.

Frampton would welcome a man he admires into his sport but ultimately feels politics might be at play.

"I think that was almost him sticking the fingers up to the UFC. He was stripped of the featherweight title recently," he added.

"I admire Conor a lot. I think it's amazing what he's doing. The UFC is huge in the States and it's big now in the UK and Ireland now because of Conor McGregor.

"I didn't really pay attention to it but now, when he's involved, I get involved and I watch it.

"There's this rivalry between the UFC and boxing. I don't think there needs to be, they're two different sports. If Conor wants to become a boxer then why not?"