New York may have been sweltering in the high summer heat, but boxer Carl Frampton strode the streets yesterday as the very definition of cool. Just 72 hours out from the biggest night of his life, the Jackal was calm, collected and ready to pounce.
Frampton will move up in weight and take a significant jump in class to stare down Leo Santa Cruz in Brooklyn on Saturday night, with the WBA super featherweight title on the line.
Being able to let his own belt out that extra notch has clearly treated Belfast’s champion well.
A month-long camp Stateside has been intense and productive, but most of all it’s been comfortable.
“Yeah, you notice it,” Frampton said of the four pounds of extra breathing room he has for the first time in his career.
“The energy levels are increased, I’m eating well. I’m drinking well. I’m just enjoying myself again. Making 122lbs... it killed me. I didn’t enjoy boxing. Two weeks before a fight, I hated it, but I’m enjoying it again.
“This week, it’s got big, I was staying out in New Rochelle [north of New York City] and it was quiet out there, but now it’s real. I got to see him in the flesh.
"I’m excited. We’re bringing a big crowd over from home, as well. It’s going to be noisy, it’s going to be atmospheric and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that my hand is raised at the end of it.”
Having come face-to-face for the first time atop the Empire State Building on Tuesday, Frampton and Santa Cruz crossed paths again yesterday in the storied Church Street Gym in the shadows of the One World Trade Center.
Outside, the lunchtime rush was extra steamy in the heat, but Saturday’s headliners saw no need to raise the temperatures inside.
“He’s a nice guy, he’s very respectful and I believe I’ve been respectful to him,” said Frampton of his Mexican rival, two years his junior, and also undefeated as a professional. “We’re two good fighters, going to fight for a world title.
"It doesn’t need any aggro, this fight sells itself. It’s an amazing fight, two undefeated fighters who are ready to go to war and do what it takes to win.
“He’s a three-weight world champion, so of course he’s easily my toughest opponent so far, but I feel I’m Santa Cruz’s toughest opponent too. It has all the ingredients to be a quality fight,” said Frampton, who paraphrased Conor McGregor.
“I’m not here to take part, I’m here to come home with the WBA world featherweight title and bring it back to Belfast. All the pressure is on Santa Cruz; people are expecting him to win. I’m going to come out here to upset things.”
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