Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz: Mexican says he will improve for Las Vegas rematch
Leo Santa Cruz believes the presence of his father Jose for the whole build-up to his WBA world featherweight title rematch with Carl Frampton will make a difference in Las Vegas on 28 January.
The Mexican, 28, lost his title after a thrilling bout with Frampton last July but says his preparations were affected by his father's battle with cancer.
"He was with me for the three weeks only before the bout," says Santa Cruz.
"My dad was going through cancer and I wasn't 100% focused on my training."
With his father's bone cancer now in remission, Santa Cruz says his mentor will be with him "every step of the way" in the build-up to the rematch as he aims to reverse his only career loss.
"We are going to train 100% and my Dad is going to be with me for the whole camp.
"Preparations are going to go a lot better and while I know it is going to be another tough and really close fight, we are hoping to get the victory this time," added the three-weight world champion.
Santa Cruz and Frampton draw Belfast crowd
The presence of the two protagonists in Belfast on Tuesday drew a vocal crowd of several hundred to the Europa Hotel but Santa Cruz's polite nature and the obvious respect between two fighters meant a total absence of any trash-talking.
A rare mild rebuke between the opponents was Frampton's scepticism over whether the Californian-based Mexican will be able to bring anything more to the table in Las Vegas than was the case in New York.
"No doubt, Leo went through a difficult time with his father's illness as anybody would in that situation," said Frampton, whose victory last July saw him becoming the first Irish fighter to win world titles at two weights.
"But he threw over a thousand punches in the fight. He was very fit. He was punching right to the end and you can't throw much more than a thousand punches in a fight.
"I don't think he's going to improve his work-rate.
"He may come up with a bit of a different game plan but whatever he comes up with, I believe I'll be able to deal with it."
Santa Cruz wants third Frampton bout in Belfast
For his part, Santa Cruz says he is already thinking about a possible third contest with Frampton in Belfast next summer once he avenges last July's outcome.
But Frampton is confident that he will instead be focusing on a contest with Wales' IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby come next summer.
"If it's 2-0 to me against Santa Cruz, there is no need for a third fight.
"I'll be hoping to have a unification fight against Lee Selby potentially in Belfast next summer but I can only think about Leo Santa Cruz at the moment.
"I know it's going to be tough in Vegas but I think if I can use my brain a little bit more than the last time and not get dragged into a fight, I can win even more convincingly."
Frampton, who had previously held the IBF and WBA super-bantamweights titles, moved up a weight to defeat the previously unbeaten three-weight world champion in New York.