Undefeated junior featherweight contender Carl Frampton will face former two-division titleholder Hugo Cazares in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 4 as he closes in on a first title shot. The bout is an elimination bout for the WBC title held by Leo Santa Cruz.
If Frampton (17-0, 12 knockouts), No. 1 in THE RING’s 122-pound ratings, beats 35-year-old Mexican veteran, he will become WBC mandatory challenger and could be in line to meet its current holder, Leo Santa Cruz (26-0-15 KOs), also from Mexico.
However, while that is the mid-term goal, right now Frampton insists he is totally focused on the threat posed by Cazares and turning on the style before what is sure to be another sell-out crowd at his local Odyssey Arena.
“Hugo Cazares is a former two-weight world champion from Mexico who brings a lot of experience and skill with him,” said the British star. “I can’t wait to get back in front of the amazing Belfast crowd and secure my shot at the WBC title.
“I have progressed so much in the last 12 months – both in the boxing ring and out of it – and I believe that the next 12 months will bring me even more success and, more importantly, the world title. It’s fantastic to be boxing at home for the fourth consecutive time – and to be fighting a former champion in a final eliminator for the world title.”
But if ‘The Jackal’ is convinced he will be too classy for Cazares (40-7-2, 27 KOs), his experienced opponent is warning that he intends to upset the odds and stop the 26 year old’s rapid rise up the elite ladder.
“April 4 is my chance to put myself back on the world stage,” said Cazares, the former RING/WBO 108-pound champ and WBA 115-pound titleholder, who is on a five-fight winning streak. “I am a former champion and I have fought all over the world, so going to Belfast is no problem for me.
“Frampton is a very good fighter but no one can stand in my way on my journey back to a world title.”
Frampton’s manager, Barry McGuigan, a former featherweight titleholder in the 1980s, readily admits his prodigy will have to perform at his peak in the spring to emerge with his perfect record in tact. However, he is confident that he will let nobody down.
“In Hugo Cazares, Carl faces a very experienced man who has been there and done it. He has won world titles in two weight divisions, including winning his second away from home in Japan. He is no stranger to partisan crowds,” said McGuigan.
“Carl will have to be at his best to beat this man and I believe he will, convincingly, and in doing so Carl will become the mandatory challenger to the WBC champ, Leo Santa Cruz,” he said.
Santa Cruz is scheduled for a title defense against Cristian Mijares on March 8 in Las Vegas.
Frampton v Cazares can be seen live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation. Visit www.boxnation.com for details.
You can follow Harry Pratt on Twitter: @gharrypratt