Carl Frampton knows that Saturday is the night that he has to deliver in the biggest fight of his career.
The Belfast banger is preparing to take on the might of three-weight world champion Leo Santa Cruz for the Mexican’s WBA Featherweight world title.
Both fighters go into the shoot-out with unbeaten records.
Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan expects a “tear-up” and admits his young charge is in “the toughest fight of his career”.
But the Tigers Bay former unified Super-bantamweight World champion says this is the showdown he has been looking for as he attempts to become a two-weight World Champion.
“These are the big fights that I wanted,” ‘The Jackal’ said.
“These are like defining nights for a fighter’s career and I’m hoping that people remember this one for a very long time.
“I have wanted the Santa Cruz fight for a long time now. But in hindsight, now looking back, I wanted it when I was a super-bantamweight, when I wasn’t performing at my best because of the weight-making issues.
“It’s probably better for me now that it’s actually happening at featherweight.
“He is a three-weight world champion, but he started at bantamweight. Although he’s taller than me,
“I don’t think he’s a bigger man than me, and I think I’m going to be much stronger than him on the night.”
And Frampton thinks moving up four pounds to featherweight will add more power to his game.
“I’m going to be punching harder, and with me moving up now to featherweight I think it’s going to suit me more than him, than if the fight had happened at 122 pounds,” he added.
“I’m faster, and I think that I can definitely punch faster. I have better feet than him. I think the big difference here will be how hard I punch, and it’s all well and good coming forward and throwing a lot of punches when you are getting hit by guys who aren’t big punchers. “But when you’ve got a big puncher standing in front of you, you won’t be as keen to come forward, and I think that that might be the case.
“I’m preparing for Santa Cruz to come all night and throw a hundred punches a round.
“But I promise you when I start hitting him hard, he’ll think twice about coming in. We’ve got a plan, we believe that ‘Plan A’ will work. “But if it doesn’t, you have different dimensions in the game I can adopt mid-fight if I have to and just do whatever it takes to get the win.”
“My punching power will play a big part in it.
“It’s about getting his respect early in the fight. I have to hit him hard and hurt him in the first or second round to make him respect me.
“When I start nailing him clean he won’t be as willing to come forward and engage as he has been in previous fights. But that’s what I intend to do.
“Look, Santa Cruz is a type of fighter I’ve been craving for my whole career, someone who comes forward and throws punches. That’s what I feel that my style works best against.”
Frampton v Santa Cruz is exclusively live on BoxNation this Saturday night. You can buy now at boxnation.com