Frampton vs. Santa Cruz Rematch Headlines Showtime Doubleheader

Photos: Esther Lin/ Showtime

Featherweight world champion Carl Frampton and former three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz went face-to-face in Los Angeles Thursday along with lightweight world champion Dejan Zlaticanin and undefeated former two-division world champion Mikey Garcia in advance of their respective showdowns Saturday, January 28 in a Premier Boxing Champions event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and live on SHOWTIME.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with Zlaticanin vs. Garcia. For Frampton and Santa Cruz, Thursday’s event was the second press conference promoting their highly anticipated rematch as the featherweights spoke to media in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Tuesday at the Europa Hotel.

Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports in association with Cyclone Promotions and TGB Promotions, are priced at $504, $404, $304, $204, $104 and $54, and are on sale now. Tickets are available at www.AXS.com.

After the Belfast press conference, the fighters and their teams flew to the U.S. to meet with the media at an open to the public event at the outdoor plaza at the Los Angeles Central Public Library.

Here is what the participants had to say:

CARL FRAMPTON

“This rematch with Leo Santa Cruz is going to be an amazing one. The first one was considered a ‘Fight of the Year’ and I don’t think this can be any different. We’re going to kick-off 2017 with a bang.

“Leo is an amazing fighter and I want to thank him for giving me the chance to fight for his title in July. I was more than happy to give him the rematch straight away. These are the types of fights I want to be involved in.

“I thought I won the first fight. I don’t think it was controversial at all. I think I won the fight by three or four rounds. They were definitely close, competitive rounds, but I think I was doing more to win rounds and get the nod. This one is going to be more of the same.

“Las Vegas is obviously a bit closer to home for Leo and I’m sure he’ll bring a lot of fans. But I’m bringing at least 4,000 from the UK. Right now I’m the most well-supported fighter in the UK. It’s a great privilege for me.

“When I fight people, I feel like I improve the second time. I have a good boxing brain and I can adapt to different situations. The only person I’ve fought twice as a pro was Kiko Martinez and the second time I fought him I won comfortably. Because I learned from the first fight. I know everything about Leo. He fights the same way every single time.

“I think our styles just gel really well together. You can expect a great night with a really huge undercard from start to finish.

“I know his training may not have been as focused last time as it could have been because of his father. I expect a better Leo Santa Cruz. But in terms of how he fights, I think he’ll fight the same way. It’s a good way to fight and it’s gotten him far. He usually wears people down, but I have serious punching power and that again could be the difference.

“If you want people to remember you in 20 or 30 years’ time, you need to fight guys like Leo Santa Cruz. We’ve already been working very hard in the gym and we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure I remain the champion and bring the title back home to Ireland.”

LEO SANTA CRUZ

“Carl Frampton is a great fighter. He has the respect of the fans because he has proven that he’s a great champion. I know it’s going to be another very close and exciting fight.

“We both train really hard for our families and for the fans. We want to give you all a great show. I know that this rematch is going to be very tough.

“I learned from the first fight that every little mistake really matters. One or two could really cost you. I trained hard but without my dad he wasn’t pressuring me like I’m used to. Those things come back to haunt you. It hurt, but it taught me that I have to leave it all in the ring and work every day for what I want.

“We’re going to be mentally and physically ready. I’m getting more motivation from having him there. We’ll be making some little changes and we’re going to do a lot better.

“I’m motivated to get my belt back. I was a champion and now I’m a former champion. That makes me unhappy. We’re going to train hard and do our best to become a champion again.

“We’re going to go to the gym and train hard to make this fight even better than the first one.”

DEJAN ZLATICANIN

“Everyone thinks that Garcia is a pound-for-pound star but I want to tell everyone that I’m going to win this fight.

“Everything in preparations has been going great. I’ll be 100% ready on January 28. This is the fight of my life. I have to be ready and we’re right on track.

“I always respected fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. or a fighter like Mike Tyson because whoever they were supposed to fight they fought. I’m the same way, an old school fighter who’s willing to fight anybody.

“I came up the hard way, and sometimes I thought I might never get this opportunity. I’ve been in some really tough fights where people gave me no chance to win, but now I’m a world champion.

“To be the first world champion from Montenegro is historic. I think it’s made me a national hero in the country and I’m honored. The people in my country love me and I love them back.

“When I beat Mikey Garcia that will make me an even bigger star. I think Mikey is a good puncher, and he has good timing, but I can hit him easily and I’m planning to knock him out.”

“Mikey will have a big opponent in front of him. He needs to run around the ring because I’m going to come for him. You will see me defend my title and you will enjoy it.”

MIKEY GARCIA

“I’m thankful to everyone who came out. I was down for over two years, but it seems like no one has forgotten about me. We’re looking for big things. I want to pick up right where I left off.

“I’m really happy to have been given this opportunity to claim a world title in a third division. This is going to be an amazing fight. He’s a hungry world champion. He’s very dangerous. These are the kind of fights that I want. This is what I need to prove myself.

“This is only the beginning. This is going to be a huge year for me. I want to win multiple titles and maybe conquer multiple divisions this year.

“I haven’t fought in Vegas since 2012 but I expect the fans to be out there supporting. This is a big stage and a night of great fights. This is a great opportunity to become a world champion in another weight class.

“I’ve known Leo Santa Cruz since the amateur days. We get to share the stage again on July 30 and I’m looking forward to another good shot. I can’t ask for anything more.

“My brother and my dad watch more film than I do. I only like to watch a couple rounds of my opponent. So I’ve seen what Dejan has. During the fight I’ll listen to my corner and make adjustments. He’s a young, undefeated champion for a reason. I want him to be at his best because that will bring out my A-game.

“My body feels really good right now. I think this is going to be a great division for me. I don’t think the weight will affect me in any way.

“This is going to be a great show. I’m going to give everything that the fans want to see. I’m sure my opponent will do the same. I want to take on the biggest challenges and I’m ready to make those fights happen. I want to give the fans the fights they want. The best of my career is yet to come.”

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