Next month Carl Frampton [23(14)-1(0)] finally has his Belfast homecoming.
However, it’s fair to say that a WBC featherweight title eliminator with Andres Gutierrez [35(25)-1(0)-1] at the SSE Odyssey Arena is not the fight that he ideally wanted.
‘The Jackal’ had initially hoped fight WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz [33(18)-1(0)-1] in a decisive third fight after the pair traded majority-decision points wins in America.
The fight however would never get off the ground, with Santa Cruz’s father and trainer Jose citing worries that they would be victim to a hometown decision as reason not to travel – as well as Leo’s own fears that Mexican-born Don Jose would have visa issues.
There were though initial talks both through official and unofficial channels, and Frampton has revealed that he exchanged a series of odd Twitter direct messages with Santa Cruz in the aftermath of their second fight in Las Vegas back in January.
Frampton was on ‘At Home With Colin Murray’ on BBC Radio 5 Live and described how “it was weird, I sent him a message on the Sunday after the [second] fight, a direct message on Twitter and said ‘are you around Leo? I’d like to have a drink with you’ but he was already away home.
“Then, out of the blue, he sent me a message, like six weeks later, replying to the last message I sent him [saying] ‘I want to get this fight on, man.'”
“I think he was drunk!”
“We were talking to each other and I said ‘hopefully we can get the offer to make you come over, it would be great.’ He was saying stuff like ‘I would come there but I know wouldn’t have much support.'”
“So I was telling him ‘all the Quigg fans would support you, don’t worry about that, you’d have a bit”
Frampton also outlined how, despite the relative lack of money on the side of Cyclone Promotions, they still were able to offer Santa Cruz a large sum.
The 30 year old noted that “there wasn’t a pay-per-view platform, and I know the money he is on, it’s pay-per-view money. There wasn’t a pay-per-view platform available to make him an offer, but there was an offer made and it was more than what he got to fight in Las Vegas – and he said no.”
“We’ve a decent relationship, me and him, and there was a small hope that he might’ve came but, to be honest, when he said no and it was ruled out it didn’t surprise me
The whole sage leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth of Frampton, especially in light of Santa Cruz’s promise last year that he would come to Belfast for a third fight.
“I was a bit pissed off,” admitted the Tiger’s Bay man.
“New York was a neutral venue but I, as champion, went to Las Vegas – it’s hard to turn down topping in Las Vegas at the MGM, and the money was good, it’s hard to turn down.”
“But I was the champion and I went to his backyard – you can drive from LA to Vegas in three hours, and they’re trying to call Vegas a neutral venue, come on, man.”
“I had a feeling that he wouldn’t come to Belfast, and it’s going to be difficult to ever bring him to Belfast.”