Northern Ireland

Carl Frampton: WBA champion welcomed at Belfast homecoming

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Media captionCarl Frampton: WBA champion welcomed at Belfast homecoming

Carl Frampton has been welcomed back to Belfast by thousands of fans after his WBA featherweight title win.

The Belfast man became the first Northern Ireland boxer to win world titles at two weight divisions when he defeated Leo Santa Cruz in the US.

Supporters gathered on the lawns at the front of Belfast City Hall on Friday evening to celebrate the win.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Frampton took the WBA featherweight crown when he defeated Leo Santa Cruz last month

The Jackal said he was "glad to get home" after his win over the Mexican in New York last month.

"I haven't done a lot since I've come back home, I've tried to keep my head down," the 29-year-old added.

"This is the first time I've tried to get out among the people - to see the support they have for me is absolutely fantastic."

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Fans gathered at Belfast City Hall to welcome the boxer home

He said he hoped to fight again in December, with a potential rematch against Santa Cruz on the cards.

"I want to have Christmas off to spend time with Christine and the kids," he said.

"I'm ready to fight big names - I want all fights to be big fights.

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Image caption Frampton's win made him the first Northern Ireland man to win a world title in two divisions

"I want to fight in Belfast more often, more than I have been recently.

"But now I'm the champion again, we can bring the big boys to Belfast."

First Minister Arlene Foster, who was at City Hall, said Frampton is a "wonderful young man".

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Image caption Thousands of fans cheered on Frampton on the lawns of City Hall

"We're all so proud of Carl Frampton, he embodies everything that is good about Northern Ireland, he inspires young people as well," she added.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Brian Kingston said the event was a chance for Frampton's fans to congratulate him.

"He is a tremendous ambassador for us," he said.

"Not just in what he has achieved, but how he handles himself, his whole character and he's very proud of where he comes from."

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Frampton was joined at the homecoming event by his two children

Frampton won his first world title - the IBF super-bantamweight crown - in 2014 when he beat Spain's Kiko Martinez.

He became the unified world champion at that weight when he defeated WBA champion Scott Quigg in February this year.

He then gave up his belts and moved up a weight to fight the previously undefeated Santa Cruz.

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