Carl Frampton vows to come back stronger from first defeat
Carl Frampton says he will come back a stronger boxer after his Las Vegas defeat at the hands of Leo Santa Cruz.
The Northern Irish fighter is expected to meet Mexican Santa Cruz for a third time and is desperate for the trilogy to be completed in Belfast.
However, another big-money meeting in the United States seems more likely.
"I do not believe there is a man in and around this weight division who could beat me in Belfast," said the 29-year-old deposed WBA featherweight champion.
"Hopefully Santa Cruz can come - I don't know if he will."
Santa Cruz, a three-division world champion, regained his title on a deserved majority verdict at a packed MGM Grand Garden Arena.
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Despite his defeat, Frampton took time to acknowledge the thousands of fans who had made the journey to Nevada, buying his adoring supporters drinks at the Nine Fine Irishmen bar, close to the MGM Grand fight venue on Sunday.
He said his priority was to have his next contest in Belfast to repay those who had spent so much following him.
"I am down in the dumps, but I am not going to not turn up because I lost the fight," added Frampton.
"The people who came out here have been amazing and I appreciate it. It is very humbling - we took over that arena last night."
Frampton said it would take him some time to get over what was the first defeat of his 24-fight professional career.
But the man from Tiger's Bay in north Belfast vowed: "I believe I can come back stronger.
"This is sport and sometimes people lose. It is about how you come back."
Although Frampton and his manager Barry McGuigan would love to stage the third meeting with 28-year-old Santa Cruz in Belfast, another Las Vegas showdown is believed to be more likely.
The two boxers have proved box office hits with the North American television audience, and Santa Cruz's management will be able to call the shots in the negotiations.