Barry McGuigan on Carl Frampton’s World title bout: ‘Forget any sentimentality, we have to fight our fight’

Carl Frampton at the weigh-in at the Barclays Center
Carl Frampton at the weigh-in at the Barclays Center

Carl Frampton fights for the title once held by his manager Barry McGuigan on Saturday night when he challenges Leo Santa Cruz.

He meets the Mexican-American WBA featherweight title holder at the Barclays Centre in New York, 21 years after McGuigan won it from Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road to become a world champion.

Unlike McGuigan at the time Frampton has already won world honours.

The undefeated Northern Irishman steps up from super-bantamweight in the toughest fight of his career, and can become a two-weight world champion.

“People are talking about sentimentality and all that nonsense, but we just don’t go for that,” said compatriot and mentor McGuigan.

“This is another fight Carl has to be in the best shape that he can be in, use the right tactics that Shane (McGuigan’s son and Frampton’s trainer) and him have worked on very hard, and win.

“So forget about the sentimentality, forget about it being the WBA title; it’s just we have got to go out there and perform and win.”

In the 29-year-old Frampton’s last fight in February, he convincingly defeated Scott Quigg to add the WBA super-bantamweight title to the IBF crown.

What was expected to be an intensely competitive fight was instead surprisingly one-sided, but that was a reflection of Quigg’s improvement over the previous 12 months. Before then, Frampton would have been considered much more a favourite.

Tonight’s meeting with Santa Cruz is perhaps the most evenly balanced of any that could be made at world level, and would have been had it been been made at any time in the previous years it has been discussed.

“Let’s not for one minute underestimate Santa Cruz,” added 55-year-old McGuigan.

“He’s an exceptional fighter. I believe Santa Cruz will push Carl harder than he’s ever been pushed before, but I believe that that will really bring the best out of Frampton.”