Carl Frampton hopes his remake of “Coming to America” is better received than his original version.
When the Northern Irishman made his U.S. debut against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. in El Paso, Texas, last July, he was quickly sent to the canvas twice in the first round.
Frampton recovered strongly and went on to earn a convincing unanimous decision to retain his 122-pound world title, but the early scare inspired “The Jackal” to change things up for his upcoming return to North America.
“I went over to Texas for the fight in El Paso only eight days before the bout,” Frampton said, “and to be honest, I did everything wrong that I possibly could have done wrong.
“A few days before the fight I was messing around by the hotel pool, enjoying the sunshine and just not being professional. It was a stupid, dumb thing to do. I nearly paid for it. I went into the fight with Gonzalez overconfident and arrogant. When you get to world-title level, all your opponents are going to be tough, but I didn’t accept that at the time. I do now. That sort of stupidity will never, ever happen again.”
It will be the 29-year-old Frampton’s first fight at 126 pounds after relinquishing his two 122-pound world titles earlier this year. Frampton had unified the titles in his last bout in February, when he earned a split decision over fellow U.K. fighter Scott Quigg in Manchester, England.
Although he will be giving up 2½ inches in height to Santa Cruz, the 5-foot-5 Frampton doesn’t anticipate having problems with the champion's length after having broken the jaw of the 5-foot-8 Quigg.
“Quigg had height on his side over me, and it didn’t help him. Anyway, I like facing men who are slightly taller than me,” Frampton said. “Santa Cruz started life in the pro ranks [competing at 118 pounds], so there will be no advantage in terms of size for him.
"I’ve been meaning to move up to  for some time, so it is a natural switch for me."
Frampton, a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, said he is prepared for the relentless come-forward style of the high-volume punching Santa Cruz.
“Santa Cruz is a banger. He is prepared to take a shot in order to land one of his own. He works for the full three minutes of every round,” Frampton said. “There is a bit of [British former two-division champion] Ricky Hatton in his style, although I think he is technically better. Hatton used brute strength to beat opponents, whereas I think Santa Cruz can pick them apart, but with a similar all-action style.
“This is my biggest test as a fighter—no doubt. But these are the sorts of fights I dreamt of when I was a kid—the big ones, in big cities like New York. Everything about this spells big, which is exactly what I want.”
Hence the reason Frampton is determined to give a better showing in Brooklyn in two weeks than he did a year ago in El Paso.
“Look, Santa Cruz is a hell of a fighter, and there will be no silliness leading up to this fight,” said Frampton, who has been in the U.S. since the beginning of the month. “I can’t go into this one as sloppily as I did against Gonzalez. If I did that again, I would lose, simple as that. And that’s not going to happen.”
For a complete overview of Santa Cruz vs Frampton, visit our fight page.