Several end-of-year praises, including two Fighter of the Year honors for featherweight world champion Carl Frampton, will add prestige and excitement for the highly anticipated rematch between the Northern Ireland-native and former three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz, which will take place Saturday, January 28 at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas live on SHOWTIME.
Frampton was named the 2016 Fighter of the Year by ESPN and Yahoo Sports, with both outlets highlighting his sensational victory over Santa Cruz in July, a ferocious battle that made Frampton the first Irishman to win world titles in two divisions. In February, Frampton bested junior featherweight world champion Scott Quigg to unify world titles in a UK mega-fight. Both the Frampton vs. Santa Cruz and Frampton vs. Quigg fights were shown on SHOWTIME. Frampton is also a nominee for the BWAA Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year award that will be announced in February.
“The biggest win for me was the Leo Santa Cruz fight,” Frampton told ESPN. “He was a three-weight world champion and most of the press and bookies picked him to win. You can see the difference in how I reacted at the end of both fights. I knew I was a better fighter than Quigg, but the Santa Cruz victory was the one I got more pleasure from.”
Frampton’s fight against Los Angeles power puncher Santa Cruz also earned honorable mention for Fight of the Year from ESPN and USA Today. ESPN ranked round 12 of their action-packed matchup as the third best Round of the Year. In addition, the Frampton vs. Santa Cruz clash is nominated for the BWAA’s Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight of the Year.
Frampton’s recognition spanned across the globe, as he was awarded the BBBofC Fighter of the Year award, the most prestigious boxing award in the UK. He also was selected as the PBC Fighter of the Year, with Santa Cruz vs. Frampton being named a finalist for PBC Fight of the Year.
The multitude of year-end honors has continued to build excitement around what will undoubtedly be another action-packed display of grit, skill and action later this month in Las Vegas. Frampton will look to cement his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, while Santa Cruz will look to take back his featherweight world title and regain his position at the top of the division.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader will be televised beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and features unbeaten lightweight world champion Dejan Zlaticanin taking on undefeated former two-division world champion Mikey Garcia.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports in association with Cyclone Promotions and TGB Promotions, are priced at $504, $404, $304, $204, $104 and $54, and are on sale now. Tickets are available at www.AXS.com.
Frampton vs. Santa Cruz on Jan.28 on Showtime
Undefeated featherweight world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) and former three-division world champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) will meet again in a world title rematch that headlines a Premier Boxing Champions event Saturday, Jan. 28 live on SHOWTIME from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader will also feature lightweight world champion Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs) making his first title defense against fan favorite and former two-division titlist Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs).
Frampton and Santa Cruz are set to clash in a rematch of their July “Fight of the Year” candidate that saw tremendous back-and-forth action throughout the 12-round fight that ended in a majority decision for the Irish fighter. Frampton drew significant Irish support in Brooklyn and will now bring his legion of fans to Las Vegas for the first time in an arena where Santa Cruz has fought six times. Just a few hours from Santa Cruz’s home of Los Angeles, the electric atmosphere is sure to be buoyed by two men who combined to land 402 power shots out of the 497 punches landed in their first fight.
To kick off the promotion, Frampton and Santa Cruz will be holding open-to-the-public press conferences in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 1 with more details to be announced shortly.
“The rematch is the fight we wanted,” said Frampton. “I enjoyed our first fight in New York. The atmosphere was fantastic and the fight lived up to the hype. On January 28th I will be better and I will win more convincingly. I know the way Leo fights, he throws a lot of punches and he is brave, but his style suits me. It has always been a dream of mine to headline in Las Vegas and I cannot wait to get out there and put on a great performance for the American boxing fans and the travelling support from Ireland and the UK.”
“From the moment our last fight ended, when the decision came and I lost the fight, I knew my only goal was to get my belt back,” said Santa Cruz. “When I sat in the locker room afterward, I felt more motivated than ever to get back in the gym. All I’ve thought about since the fight was this rematch. There won’t be any distractions in this camp. I’ll be heading into the fight with a better game plan. I’m putting in 100 percent in training and I’m excited to get in the ring on January 28 to get my belt back.”
“This is the most important fight of my career,” said Zlaticanin. “I expect a tough and ruthless fight. I know how good Mikey Garcia is, but I also know how good I am. The fight is not going to reach the final bell; one of us will be knocked out, and I believe it will be Mikey. Garcia has never fought a good and strong fighter like me before. He will feel my power on January 28.”
“I’m very happy and excited for my upcoming fight,” said Garcia. “This is a chance to claim a third world title in my third division. Zlaticanin is tough, strong and dangerous but I feel confident in my abilities. I’m planning on giving the fans in Las Vegas a great show. 2017 will be a great year for me and it all starts January 28!”
“Frampton-Santa Cruz II is truly the best that boxing has to offer, an immediate rematch of a leading Fight of the Year candidate between the two top-rated fighters in the division,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “And Zlaticanin vs. Garcia is a ’50/50′ fight between two undefeated champions and a main event in its own right. The Jan. 28 telecast is the cornerstone of four upcoming SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING presentations that feature the best matchups in boxing’s deepest divisions. Events like this one are proof that SHOWTIME delivers the strongest boxing line up of any network in the sport today.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports in association with Cyclone Promotions and TGB Promotions, are priced at $504, $404, $304, $204, $104 and $54, and go on sale Tuesday, November 29 at 9 a.m. PT. Tickets are available at www.AXS.com.
“I am looking forward to a terrific event in Las Vegas,” said Barry McGuigan of Cyclone Promotions, a former world champion and Hall of Famer. “The first fight between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz was sensational and I truly believe that the rematch will be even better. I’m convinced that Carl will win the rematch more convincingly and beating someone like Leo Santa Cruz a second time will define Carl as true great of Irish boxing. I know everyone at Cyclone Promotions is proud to deliver a great night of boxing at MGM Grand where there will be a full action packed card of championship fights.”
“It’s a thrill to promote another fantastic night of boxing featuring two evenly matched world championship showdowns,” said Richard Schaefer, Chairman and CEO of Ringstar Sports. “These are the kinds of cards that Ringstar is all about. Frampton and Santa Cruz put on a memorable performance in July and battled from the opening bell. It was Frampton who took home the belt last time, but I expect that Leo will train to be 100 percent and do everything in his power to get his title back. I believe this could be an even better fight than the first one. We also have Mikey Garcia, who shook off the ring rust in July and will challenge the most dangerous lightweight champion in the world, Dejan Zlaticanin, in the co-main event. This is a fight that looks destined to end by knockout. The perfect stage for this great night of action is the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and I anticipate a huge crowd on hand to support these outstanding fighters.”
“The first fight between Frampton and Santa Cruz was action packed from start to finish and I guarantee the rematch will be the same,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Along with the Zlaticanin-Garcia bout, as they battle for a world title, you have another can’t miss night of boxing from MGM Grand live on SHOWTIME.”
Frampton’s all-action style has made him a firm favorite with boxing fans all around the world. The record breaking Northern Irishman is currently one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on the planet and on January 28 will, for the first time, take his legion of fans to the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas. The 29-year-old defeated Santa Cruz after conquering rival Scott Quigg in their 122-pound unification bout in February. Fighting out of Belfast, the Irish national amateur champion (in 2005 and 2009) became a world champion in 2014 when he defeated Kiko Martinez to earn a super bantamweight title. He made his U.S. debut in July 2015 when he defeated Alejandro “Cobrita” Gonzalez Jr. in Texas before unifying the title against Quigg.
The popular Mexican-American Santa Cruz fights out of Los Angeles and won a 126-pound title in a “Fight of the Year” grudge match against former three-division champ Abner Mares in August 2015 at STAPLES Center. He followed that up by stopping former world champion Kiko Martinez before taking the Frampton challenge. Prior to that, Santa Cruz won belts at 118 and 122 pounds while earning a reputation as one of boxing’s most active and exciting fighters. The 28-year-old also holds victories over Cristian Mijares and Eric Morel and has competed in world title bouts in 12 of his last 14 fights since 2012.
The first world champion ever from Montenegro, Zlaticanin will be putting his belt on the line for the first time since earning a third-round stoppage of Franklin Mamani in June to pick up the vacant title. The 32-year-old put himself in position to fight for the title in his U.S. debut by dominating then unbeaten Ivan Redkach on his way to a third-round TKO. A hard-hitting southpaw, Zlaticanin also has victories over Ricky Burns and Petr Petrov.
A popular fighter on both coasts, Oxnard, California’s Garcia returned from a two and half year layoff in July to dominate former champion Elio Rojas on his way to a fifth-round stoppage in Brooklyn as the co-main event of the first Santa Cruz vs. Frampton fight. The 28-year-old is ready to resume his promising career that already saw him pick up world titles at 126 and 130 pounds. Trained by his brother Robert, he owns impressive victories over Roman Martinez, Orlando Salido, Juan Manuel Lopez and Bernabe Concepcion.