Carl Frampton: Belfast's world champion named ESPN's fighter of 2016

Carl Frampton landes a right on WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz in New York
Carl Frampton outpointed WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz in July

Carl Frampton has been named as ESPN's top boxer of 2016.

The Belfast boxer, 29, wins the US-based global broadcaster's award after a year that saw him defeat the previously unbeaten Leo Santa Cruz to win the WBA featherweight title.

That meant Frampton became the first Northern Ireland fighter to win world titles at two weights.

Frampton's contest with Santa Cruz was rated as a classic fight and the duo will rematch in Las Vegas next month.

Prior to his New York victory over Santa Cruz, Frampton defeated England's Scott Quigg on points in their world super-bantamweight title unification bout.

ESPN Senior Writer Dan Rafael said that "no other fighter in 2016 scored such an impressive combination of victories in high-profile bouts against elite opponents - in multiple divisions on the road - with one of them a contender for fight of the year".

Frampton described the ESPN award as "a huge honour and very humbling".

The Northern Irishman, who will fight Santa Cruz again on 28 January, beat off competition for the award from a list of fighters who included Manny Pacquiao, Andre Ward and Terence Crawford.

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