Two-division world champion talks about Saturday's homecoming bout vs Luke Jackson in Belfast, Northern Ireland claiming another world title by the end of the year and securing a trilogy fight with Leo Santa Cruz.
While claiming the WBO interim featherweight title is a fine accomplishment, it doesn’t come close to satisfying any of the goals Carl Frampton has set for himself. His eyes are focused on acquiring unification bouts against WBO champ Oscar Valdez, WBC champ Gary Russell Jr. or IBF champ Josh Warrington.
Frampton, who earned his interim belt in April with a unanimous decision over multi-divisional champ Nonito Donaire, believes a victory against one or all of the current 126-pound champions will set up his ultimate goal — a rubber match with Leo Santa Cruz, the WBA featherweight champion.
Their previous two meetings were tightly contested affairs, with each man coming away with a majority-decision win. Frampton won the initial showdown July 30, 2016 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Santa Cruz earned revenge in the rematch on Jan. 28, 2017 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Frampton (25-1-0, 14 knockouts) will carry the motivation for another match against Santa Cruz when he puts his interim title on the line this Saturday when he faces unbeaten Luke Jackson (16-0-0, 7 KOs) at Windsor Park in Frampton's hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The bout will stream live on Showtime Boxing's Facebook page and Showtime Sports' YouTube channel at 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m PT.
How rewarding was it for you to have the kind of engaging, yet, dominant fight with Nonito Donaire that you did?
I was happy with how the fight with Donaire went. It was an exciting fight, but I felt like I was always in control and a step ahead. Sometimes one-sided fights become a bit boring.
But there was always a danger with Donaire because he’s a puncher. I don’t think it was a boring fight. We had a good fight where good boxing skills were on display, so I was happy with how the fight went.
Is there anything to be gained from comparing your split-decision victory over Scott Quigg in February 2016 to Oscar Valdez’s win over him in March?
Quigg’s fight against Valdez and my fight against Quigg were two completely different fights. In my opinion, and this may or may not be true, but Quigg missed weight for his fight with Valdez on purpose. That stuff about a fractured foot in the lead up to the fight was nonsense. I haven’t seen any evidence of a fractured foot, and the first thing you do if you have a fractured foot, and that’s your excuse, is you produce evidence and you show an X-ray.
So I believe that was an excuse and that he missed the weight purposely to come in heavy. He didn’t wanna do the next day weigh-in because he wanted to come in heavy and they were the tactics that he employed in the fight.
He tried to bully Valdez with his strength, so in a sense, that was cheating. That’s my opinion, but Valdez comprehensively beat him. Quigg had a little bit of success, but Valdez won the fight pretty clear.
My fight with Quigg was completely different. He was afraid to engage for the first half of the fight, and then, when he got desperate, he came on a little bit. But I felt comfortable. I felt like I lost maybe two rounds in that fight, and that was me as a really dehydrated super bantamweight. So that’s two completely different fights and not comparable at all.
What did you think of Leo Santa Cruz’s performance in his rematch victory over Abner Mares?
Leo Santa Cruz performance against Mares was very good. Mares was good as well in a good fight—probably better than the first fight.
That’s hard to say, because the first fight was another cracker. Like myself against Leo, they were two good fights. Leo did well and won the fight convincingly, in my eyes.
How important is a trilogy with Santa Cruz, what has to happen for that to take place, and do you see it happening this year or next year?
Obviously, I had a decent reputation before I fought Leo Santa Cruz. But in becoming a two-weight world champion, that’s improved. I already had good support being a unified champion in the super bantamweight division.
But when you go and defeat a three-weight world champion in Leo Santa Cruz, that’s only going to enhance your reputation, and that’s definitely what it’s done for me. Again, that’s the fight that I want. It seems like I’m the one who’s talking about it more than Leo.
“ I hope he starts to become as keen as I am about making the trilogy, and finally settling the score. That fight can be made whenever he wants it, and that’s the truth. ” WBO Interim Featherweight Champ Carl Frampton
I hope he starts to become as keen as I am about making the trilogy, and finally settling the score. For the fight with Santa Cruz to take place, I don’t know what has to happen. I’m saying that I’m willing to fight him, and I’m saying that I’m willing to come back to the United States to fight him.
That fight can be made whenever he wants it, and that’s the truth. I’ve got it out of my head that Santa Cruz is going to come to the UK. I just don’t believe that he will. So I’ve kind of forgotten about that, but I’m willing to travel.
It’ll happen, but I’ve got to win another world title before the end of the year, maybe against Warrington or Valdez, and then go into 2019 with title. Maybe that will force is hand a little bit and almost make it impossible for him to ignore me.
What are your thoughts on a fight with Gary Russell Jr., how far away would a fight like that be, and how does that break down for you, style-wise?
Gary Russell is a terrific fighter—certainly one of, if not, the best featherweights in the division. Gary’s a different type of opponent than Leo Santa Cruz. He’s got very fast hands, picks his shots well and is a very explosive fighter.
That would be another very difficult fight against a world champion who has got something that I want. I want to be a world champion again, and that’s another fight that I would be happy to take. Whether it’s Gary Russell, Leo Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington or Oscar Valdez, I’m happy to face any of them.
Finally, how intriguing is a fight with Warrington, and do you consider him to have been an upset winner over Selby?
The Warrington fight was an upset. I thought Selby was going to win pretty convincingly, but Selby was done at the weight. About 30 seconds into the fight, they were holding in a bit of a clinch, and Warrington just threw Selby around, positioning him on the ropes like he was a rag doll.
I knew it was going to be a difficult night for Selby, and there was no denying Warrington in a good performance. But again, if you wanna talk about fighters who were made for me, Warrington has a come-forward, aggressive style and he’s not a big puncher. That’s another fight I would like to happen.
What do you know about your upcoming opponent, Luke Jackson, his style, power and skill level, and how does he stack up as an opponent compared to others you have faced?
Jackson’s a decent fighter. He’s well-rounded and he’s a former Olympian and an Australian Olympic captain. He’s got a decent pedigree, he’s undefeated as a pro and highly ranked with the WBO. There’s a chance that people are kind of overlooking him.
That’s what happened in my first fight in America when I fought Alejandro Gonzalez (in July 2015). I took my eye off the ball, thinking I was gonna run through him and it was gonna be an easy night.
But it didn’t work out that way. You tend to change your opinion of a fighter after (he puts) you on your backside twice in the first round. I’ll not be doing that for sure against Luke Jackson. I’ll train and go into this fight thinking that Luke Jackson’s a top fighter.
I’ll need to be ready for him and I will be. But his style is made for me. If you were to pick or build a fighter that I’m gonna fight, you would pick or build Luke Jackson. He’s made for me and I’m going to look very impressive on fight night.
For a closer look at Carl Frampton, check out his fighter page.