CARL FRAMPTON will draw inspiration from fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy in his bid to become a two-weight world champion this Saturday night.
The undefeated Belfast boxer takes on Mexican featherweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz at the Barclays Center in New York, exclusively live on BoxNation.
Golf legend McIlroy revealed that he will be ringside for Frampton’s eagerly anticipated clash this weekend, with the former unified super-bantamweight world champion admitting his presence will help spur him to victory.
“It will be a big boost to have Rory McIlroy in the crowd supporting me. He’s achieved a lot for Northern Irish sport and to have him behind me when I become the country’s first two-weight world champion is a huge motivation,” Frampton told BoxNation. “It will be the first time he’s seeing me fight live and it’s my toughest fight so far but I’m going out there to impress and win.
“I’m going to build on the great momentum in Northern Ireland at the moment, especially after our success in the Euros, and having the support of other successful sports people and the fans will take me to another level on Saturday night. I can’t wait,” he said.
27-year-old Santa Cruz goes into the fight as the bookies favourite with a sizeable height and reach advantage.
However, the Ulsterman believes that his added power since moving up to the 126-pound featherweight division will be key to winning the fight.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I think I can punch very hard and I don’t think that Leo – he’s been in with some good opposition – but I don’t think he’s been hit by anyone that can punch as hard as me, yet,” said Frampton.
“I think that when I was making 122 it was taking something away from my power and I was hurting opponents, sparring partners in the gym, when I was sitting around 130, 132.
“But on fight night with the smaller gloves on, I wasn’t having the same effect and actually got down to making the weight. So I think that I can judge distance very well. I’ve got good distance control. I can see things coming.
“And that combined with my punching power, it’s not going to be easy. Leo is going to come forward better, but when he’s getting hit hard he may have to think twice about coming forward so much,” Frampton said.
Saturday night’s bill will also see the return of unbeaten former world champion Mikey Garcia who will look to kick start his career against Elio Rojas after over 2 years out following a contract spat with his previous promoter.