However, it seems the powers behind his career are more than open to seeing a Carl Frampton rubber match this year.
Frampton has been keen to renew acquaintances with the three-weight world champion and current WBA featherweight ring king, but his chances of a third fight with the Mexican fighter were dealt a severe blow when ‘The Jackal’ suffered defeat to Josh Warrington in an IBF world title fight last month.
Indeed, the reverse has forced the 31-year-old Belfast fighter to consider retirement and confirmation on his future is awaited.
However, Frampton did suggest he would fight on if Santa Cruz or Warrington rematches presented themselves – but in recent weeks both have been talking about unification clashes and dropping names like Oscar Valdez of WBO fame and WBC beltholder Gary Russell Jr.
A rematch with Warrington would be easy to make considering both are signed to Frank Warren, but the promoter’s silence with regard to any return suggests – despite claiming the first installment was the best fight he ever witnessed in Britain and his constant talk of rematches and trilogies beforehand – that he isn’t exploring the idea.
However, while Santa Cruz himself hasn’t discussed a third Frampton fight and has been discussing other options during media duties ahead of his much-derided defence versus Miguel Flores next month, it seems his team still see ‘The Jackal’ as a 2019 option.
Citing their sourced, respected publication Ring Magazine have this week reported that Premier Boxing Champions and Al Haymon are keen to make Santa Cruz v Russell Jr – which was rumoured for the Wilder-Fury undercard but never happened – but also view the Frampton rubber match as an option worth exploring for 2019.
The former two weight world champion may not bring a title to the table, but the have engaged in two fight of the year candidates. The Belfast native won the first encounter in July 2016 in New York before Santa Cruz exacted revenge six months later in Las Vegas, both fights finishing in majority decisions.
It’s said the close and exciting nature of the first two means PBC are happy to a third and if Frampton does fight on he may get the chance to avenge one of just two career defeats and regain world title status.
Indeed, a vacant title fight at super featherweight, should one of the four belts become available could be where the third fight takes place giving Frampton the opportunity to become a three-weight world champion – and Santa Cruz the chance to claim honours in a fourth division.