Carl Frampton beats Leo Santa Cruz to win WBA world featherweight title in New York

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Frampton says world title win over Santa Cruz 'creates a bit of legacy'

Carl Frampton became the WBA featherweight champion by beating Leo Santa Cruz on points in a superb contest in New York.

The 29-year-old from Belfast, a former super-bantamweight world champion, is the first Northern Irish fighter to win a world title in two weight divisions.

Frampton was declared the clear winner by two of the judges, with the third seeing it as a draw.

It was a first defeat of 27-year-old Mexican Santa Cruz's career.

"I wanted to be in a fight people would remember," said Frampton, having made good on his pre-fight promise to give fans a "shock".

His mentor and manager Barry McGuigan, who held the same title three decades ago, said: "This is one of the greatest nights of my life."

Saturday's fight was Frampton's first as a professional at featherweight, having moved up a division after unifying the IBF and WBA super-bantamweight titles by beating England's Scott Quigg in Manchester in February.

The Belfast boxer, in his fifth world title fight, made the stronger start, rocking the champion on to the ropes with a series of heavy punches in the second round.

The classy Mexican, with a two-inch reach advantage, was clearly throwing more punches, but the more effective, cleaner work came from the challenger.

Frampton seemed to be building up a lead but Santa Cruz, who has held world titles at three weights, was on top in rounds six and seven.

Frampton regained the initiative but was hit by a clean right hand during the 10th before Santa Cruz finished strongly.

One judge scored it a 114-114 draw but the others made Frampton the winner, 116-112 and 117-111.

It gave Frampton the belt McGuigan won more than 31 years earlier, when he memorably defeated Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road football stadium in London.

The new champion said he wanted to defend the title in his home city and did not rule out a rematch, although he also has IBF champion Lee Selby in his sights.

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Carl Frampton can be Ireland's best ever fighter - Barry McGuigan

What they said

Carl Frampton: "I wanted to be in a fight people would remember. I wanted to be in with true champions like Leo Santa Cruz.

"It was a close, hard fight. I probably could have made it easier.

"I fought with my heart rather than my head at some points. But I got the hand raised and that's the main thing.

"This guy is a three-weight world champion. He is a true warrior and I respect him a hell of a lot.

"I would love to bring him to Belfast and show them an amazing fighter but I have a good relationship with Lee Selby's team. I want to be the best and be involved in big fights."

Leo Santa Cruz: "It was a pretty tough fight but now I want a rematch. I don't care where.

"He's a great champion and he's got a very difficult style. It's hard to forget your first loss but I will go back to the gym and get a rematch."

Frampton's trainer, Shane McGuigan: "Carl wants to create a legacy and I believe this is the entertainment business. Against Santa Cruz ,you need to fight your way out and he did that.

"There was a lot of respect there, it's nice to come over here and be involved in a fight that sells itself. Carl is a very respectful person, that showed in the build-up and tonight. He's here to be himself and that's what he did."

Lee Selby: "Beforehand I thought it could go either way. It was going back and forth, it was a great spectacle.

"Carl has talked about moving up, he mentioned me after his fight with Quigg, so it sounds like he wants the fight and I want the fight so let's make it happen."


Mike Costello, BBC boxing correspondent in Brooklyn

"It has been a long, long road for Barry McGuigan since he first spotted Carl Frampton in 2008 at the Ulster Championships.

"While this isn't the end of their journey it is a very important station; when the pressure was on, Frampton produced some of his very best form.

"There are so many options for him now, so many possibilities, he's the boss man."

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