Fight week officially kicked-off Wednesday with fighter grand arrivals and media workouts before the Premier Boxing Champions event this Saturday, January 28 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and live on SHOWTIME.
Headlining the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING card and Wednesday’s workout were featherweight world champion Carl Frampton and former three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz, who meet in a rematch of their July Fight of the Year candidate. Televised action begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with undefeated lightweight world champion Dejan Zlaticanin battling former two-division world champion Mikey Garcia.
Also participating in the workout were a pair of fighters who will be featured on SHOWTIME EXTREME beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Featherweight world champion Lee Selby defends his title against former champion Jonathan Victor Barros while undefeated rising star David Benavidez takes on once-beaten Sherali Mamadjanov.
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. Tickets are available at www.AXS.com.
Here is what the participants had to say Wednesday from MGM Grand:
“I think I’m going to get another win. I feel like I’ve been improving during training and I feel like I’m getting stronger and punching harder. If I have to go into the trenches again, I’m prepared to do that.
“This is my second fight at featherweight, so I think I’m getting more used to the weight. I feel more comfortable overall this time. Going into this fight, I have the psychological edge. I’m relaxed, excited and happy about boxing again.
“Me and Leo are both very motivated. I want to prove that the first fight wasn’t a fluke and that I’m a better fighter. I’m going to show that the awards I picked up last year are justified.
“I think if you look at Leo’s style, it’s exciting and it’s made him a three-weight world champion. The whole way through his career he’s fought with aggression. He has a high work-rate and he tries to bully opponents. I don’t think he’s going to do a lot different this time.
“If I can get a lead on the scorecards and make him desperate, that’s where I’m really going to capitalize.
“I believe that if I hit anyone in these weight divisions clean on the chin, they can go down and out.
“I believe that I’m going to face a very tough Leo Santa Cruz, as always. This is going to be another difficult fight, but if I make the adjustments I’ve had to in the gym, I’ll win the fight more convincingly.
“It’s great to see people already out here supporting me, but there are more coming. Most people arrive tonight or tomorrow. This is just a fraction and it’s going to be really exciting on fight night.”
LEO SANTA CRUZ
“I’m very excited and happy to be here. I know that this is going to be another tough fight. This is what we want. We want to give the fans great fights and I think this is going to be another war. I’m looking to go in there and get my belt back.
“It’s a dream come true to be fighting back at MGM Grand. I’ve wanted to fight here since I was a kid. I never thought it would come true, but now that it is, I’m honored and excited to be fighting in the main event.
“It was very hard to lose for the first time. I was disappointed in myself and I knew I had let my fans down. I got a lot of great support thought and I felt a lot better. It motivated me to get to this fight.
“I have to be smarter in this fight. I need to be more patient. Frampton is a great counter-puncher so I think I need to counter the counter puncher. I’ll use my reach and do a little bit of everything to get the win.
“I think this will be even better than the first one. I’m more determined and hungrier this time and I think Carl Frampton is too. We’re going to come with everything we’ve got.
“I look at Carl Frampton and I see myself because I know that he is doing this for his family. This is what we do. Once we get in that ring, it’s all business. We respect each other outside of the ring.
“I can feel that it’s going to be a great atmosphere. This is where we want to be and these are the kinds of fights we want to be in.
“I know a lot of Irish people will be out to support Carl Frampton and I know the Mexican fans will be here to support me. That’s what I want. We both deserve support because we’re going to give a great fight for the fans.
“We want a trilogy. If I get the win, I will happily give him a third fight and make this a great rivalry that goes back-and-forth.
“Since I started boxing, I’ve been throwing a lot of punches. The kids couldn’t take my pressure and they said I destroy them like an ‘earthquake.’ That’s where ‘Terremoto’ comes from.”
“I’m very happy to be here for this huge event at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I’m very grateful to my team for making this fight possible. We’re striving to be the best. I’m a world champion and I’m going to leave the ring a champion. Mikey can try and take away my belt, but he’s not going to be able to do.
“I’m going for a knockout. I’m the kind of fighter who is going to be aggressive. I always want to impress the fans and give them excitement.
“If Mikey stands in the pocket with me, it will be a short night. If he wants to box, it will take a little longer. But My goal is still to knock him out.
“It’s going to be hard in Las Vegas to get a decision against a Mexican icon like Mikey Garcia and this is why I’m trying to make it exciting and bring the fight to him.”
“I love to jab and use it to set up other big punches. It’s a foundation for everything, even defense. A lot of fighters don’t use it, but I could use it for an entire fight. All of those big punches can change a fight, but the jab sets everything up.
“This fight is a great opportunity for me and I’m going to take advantage of it. This is a new division for me and I believe I’m facing the toughest guy in the division. This is going to be a great division for me. I feel fast and strong and really believe you will see the best Mikey Garcia at lightweight.
“Had I been fighting during my layoff; I would probably be close to retiring by now. The time allowed me to go enjoy life and my family and come back to the sport with a new mindset and ready to work.
“There are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish in this sport. This would be my third division with a world title. I would obviously want to unify titles or go after title at 140-pounds. I’m going to do whatever it takes to elevate myself in this sport.
“This is a great fight. Dejan is going to come to win. I’m coming to take his title. It’s going to be a great show but I feel that I’m going to win a world title in my third-division.
“If I could get the winner of the Jorge Linares-Anthony Crolla rematch, and claim supremacy in the division, that would be great. I’ll go anywhere in the world to do it and I definitely want these challenges.
“I think this is going to be a great fight but I do believe that I’m going to become the new world champion on Saturday night.”
“This is massive for where I came from. To build myself up to this moment is amazing and I’m excited to be here.
“I think every boxer dreams of fighting in Las Vegas, especially in the U.K. We’ve watched Floyd Mayweather fight here for years and we want to emulate that. It’s not an unrealistic dream now.
“My opponent is a big physical guy with a lot of experience. He can definitely punch and he’s going to try throw shots from an unorthodox position. Hopefully my angles will help me be successful.
“I think people have been overlooking my fight. It’s going to be a very tough battle. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy fight, but if I can come through okay it would be a massive fight against Carl Frampton next. I think it would be one of the biggest in the U.K.
“Having already fought in the U.S. is valuable because it helps me know what to expect. But fighting in Las Vegas will be different. Carl Frampton has brought a lot of fans over and we’ll see whether they cheer or boo me. Either way it’ll be a good atmosphere.
“It was hard to pick a winner between Frampton and Santa Cruz in the first fight and I was sitting ringside. I’m rooting for Carl Frampton this time so we can make that huge unification fight.
“This is a great opportunity for fans to see two international stars like Carl and myself in-person and we’ll certainly put on a great show.”
“I trained really hard for this fight. I have a strong, tough opponent but I’m going to go in there and prove to everybody that I can be the best.
“I’ve always wanted to prove to my older brother (unbeaten welterweight Jose) that I could do this just like him and make a name for myself in the sport. I’m looking to be part of a new generation of fighters.
“This is a good fight for me on my way to a world title shot. I’m just working hard to get better every day so that I can earn my spot in the ring with the top guys.
“I think my time is coming. If I can keep performing and taking advantage of these opportunities, my goals are in reach.
“I think I’m going to be at 168-pounds for a while. I make the weight comfortably. I’m hoping to get a world title opportunity in that weight class first.
“I just want to be an exciting fighter. I want to be a fighter that everyone gathers around the television to watch. I always want to give the fans a great fight. I think I can do that while becoming one of the best fighters in boxing.”
ABOUT FRAMPTON vs. SANTA CRUZ 2
Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz 2 is a world championship rematch of the 2016 Fight of the Year candidate featherweight showdown. The 12-round bout headlines SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING action on Saturday, January 28 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In the co-main event, lightweight world champion Dejan Zlaticanin will meet former two-division champion Mikey Garcia in the opening bout on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Featherweight world champion Lee Selby will fight for the second time in the United States when he battles former world champion Jonathan Victor Barros in action on SHOWTIME EXTREME beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Photo credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME