Undefeated featherweight world champion Carl Frampton and former three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz went face-to-face at the final press conference before they enter the ring for their highly anticipated rematch that headlines a Premier Boxing Champions event this Saturday, January 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and live on SHOWTIME.
Televised coverage of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING 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, who also squared-off at the final press conference before their championship showdown Saturday.
The press conference also featured fighters competing in the SHOWTIME EXTREME portion of the card beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Featherweight world champion Lee Selby defends his title against former champion Jonathan Victor Barros, undefeated rising star David Benavidez takes on once-beaten Sherali Mamadjonov and undefeated prospect Josh Taylor will have highlights of his 10-round super lightweight contest featured on-air, time permitting.
Santa Cruz announced at the press conference, that he will be raffling off his ring outfit, gloves and other items following the fight and plans to donate the money to a children’s cancer charity. Additional information will be posted on his social media accounts (@leosantacruz2 on Twitter and @elfamosoterremoto on Instagram).
“Both Leo and myself enjoyed the fight, although more importantly, the fans enjoyed it. I have to give Leo credit for taking the rematch and making this happen.
“I think with this fight, there can’t be too much that goes differently. Our styles just gel together. Leo is a tremendous fighter who I have the utmost respect for inside and outside of the ring.
“Both of us fight for our families. That’s really all the motivation you need. Two young men with young kids who just want to give their children a better life. Those are the ingredients for a top quality contest.
“There’s no doubt we both have what it takes to win this fight, but the way things have been going this training camp, I’m extremely confident I’ll get the win. I’m excited for the fight, but I believe that I’m going to come home victorious. This crowd that has come from overseas to support me is incredible and I’m hoping to send them home happy.”
LEO SANTA CRUZ
“I’m happy to be here. Since I was very small it was my dream to be the main event on a big card. I saw all of the other greats fight here and I always said that maybe one day I could fight here. Now I’ve made it, thanks to the help of my family and team.
“Now that I’ve made it here, I want to make sure I shine. I want to give my best. I’m really prepared for this fight. Our first fight was great and this is going to be another tough fight.
“We’ve been working on some little things in the gym. We’re going to be smarter but as a Mexican fighter, I’m going to give the fans a great fight. Every time I step into the ring, I’m trying to please the fans.
“I can use my distance and box if I wanted to, but I want to brawl. I want to bring my heart to the ring and entertain the fans. I’m going to do a little bit of everything.
“I’m going to be the smarter fighter and I’m going to do what I have to do to win this fight. I think this fight is going to be even better than the first fight.
“I need to really fight the best fight of my career. This is a huge fight and it’s the main event in Las Vegas. This is what I dreamed of. I’m seeing the benefits of all of the hard work I’ve put in.
“Carl is a great fighter with great skills. He’s very respectful and I know that he does this for his family too. When you do this for your family, you do it with heart and hunger and you leave everything in the ring.”
“Garcia has very good timing and power, especially with the right hand. I don’t think he’s very flexible in the ring though. That will hurt him.
“This is a big fight for me and my country of Montenegro. People love me there and I think the whole country will be awake to watch this fight.
“I think I’m a stronger fighter and I’ve fought just as good opposition. It will be a good fight, but I am coming for the knockout victory.
“I know how dangerous Mikey Garcia is and it’s a big deal that I get to defend my title against him. When they told me about this fight, I immediately accepted because I want to fight against the best.
“People might not know about me right now, but after Saturday, they will know about me forever. This is a risky fight but a win would be huge for me and my country.
“I can’t think about anything but the fight. I just want to get in the ring and show everyone my skills and my heart.
“If Mikey avoids fighting me in the middle I could see it going 12 rounds, but I’ll definitely be looking for the knockout if I can get it.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be here in Las Vegas. To be one of the stars of this show is fantastic. A lot of boxers dream of being in this position and I’m living it.”
“I had time to experience a lot of things during my layoff that I hadn’t done before. Especially spend a lot of time with my family, but I always stayed in shape and that has kept me ready for this moment.
“I think this was one of the best training camps that I’ve ever had. My focus is on lightweight and winning this title. Depending on how my body feels, I could see myself moving up to 140 pounds later this year.
“This is a chance to add another chapter to my legacy. I just want to add to my legacy and the legacy of the whole Garcia boxing family. I’m going to leave my mark.
“We’re here. Now that I’m back, I’m ready to take over. I’m taking on the biggest challenges available. These are opponents with the credibility that I need. These are the guys I can prove myself against. I want to take the title away from a legitimate champion.
“Dejan is the most dangerous champion in the division. He has great power, but I believe in what I’ve got. We’re picking up right where we left off. Saturday night I’m going to add another title to the collection and give the fans more to enjoy.
“This next stage of my career will be the biggest and best part of my career. Dejan believes he’s going to win and so do I. That’s the recipe for a great action fight.”
“I’m happy and excited to be fighting at the mecca of boxing in Las Vegas. I turned professional in 2008 and fought in small venues. Against all odds, I’ve made it here to be defending my title on this great stage.
“I’ve been training very hard for this fight. It’s an opportunity to show my skills. I’ve been training for three months and I’m as ready as can be.
“It’s going to be a great night of boxing. You don’t want to miss it.
“I believe I have a style that’s going to entertain fans. This is another challenge that’s in front of me on the way to a world title.
“I’m ready to put on a big performance Saturday night. I hope that this will lead to bigger and better challenges for myself.”
“I’m very happy to be here. I’m excited to fulfill my dream to fight in Las Vegas. I’ve traveled all the way from Uzbekistan to take this fight.
“I am going to leave everything in the ring in search of this victory. I want to make a name for myself and this is a great opportunity to do that.”
“I’m so excited to be here in Las Vegas for the first time. I’m thrilled to be on such a big undercard so early in my career.
“This has been a great training camp and I’m ready to bring that work into the ring and show my skills for the fans in Las Vegas.
“I’m going to bring another victory back home with me and give everyone a great show Saturday night.”
RICHARD SCHAEFER, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports
“The goal in this promotion was to make this fight as big as it could be and I hope you enjoy it on Saturday night.
“This is a card of winners. These fighters here have around 300 wins with only 30 losses. It’s also a card of punchers, with almost 200 knockouts between these fighters. Tickets start at just $50, which is an amazing value for this kind of card.
“Saturday night will be the happiest place on earth for fight fans right here at the MGM Grand. I guarantee that Saturday night will be a spectacular night of boxing.
“We want to continue to bring these great stacked cards to viewers in the United States and all around the world. If you look at the SHOWTIME boxing calendar, it is truly a great time to be a boxing fan.
“This fight between Zlaticanin and Garcia could truly be a main event on almost any other card. This is two great champions fighting each other and it’s guaranteed to be exciting. This is a very dangerous fight for both fighters.
“Leo always has a smile on his face, even when he gets punches. He is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport and one of the kindest guys. He really defines the word ‘entertainment.’ You will never see a boring fight when Leo is in the ring.”
BARRY MCGUIGAN, Former World Champion, Hall of Famer and Frampton’s Manager
“I’m very excited about this great night. This is going to be a sensational fight. We have great respect for Leo Santa Cruz and his family. They’re great people and they can really fight.
“This is a great main event and the undercard is spectacular. I don’t think I’ve seen one like this in a long time.
“This is going to be a tough fight, but we’re taking the belt home with us.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive VP & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports
“SHOWTIME has televised more boxing events from the MGM Grand than any other network. It became our second home. We’re glad to be back and we’ll be back many more times.
“We’re thrilled to present a fight the caliber of Lee Selby vs. Yoni Barros in a world title fight on SHOWTIME EXTREME, where so many great fighters have gotten their start.
“In our main event, Frampton-Santa Cruz was the 2016 Fight of the Year. By wide consensus Frampton was the Fighter of the Year in 2016. This fight has a chance to become a great rivalry. It reminds me in many ways of the Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales at featherweight, several of which took place at MGM Grand.
“The first fight was so close that there was a difference of just 13 total punches in the 12 rounds. It was so action packed that nearly 80 percent of the punches landed, were power punches. It was so close a fight, that the fighters landed within six punches of each other, in 10 of the 12 rounds. That’s the definition of a close fight and we’re thrilled that these fighters agreed to a rematch so quickly.
“Dejan Zlaticanin is one of the most avoided fighters at the lower weight classes. Mikey Garcia is not one who goes with the norm. Zlaticanin is the eighth consecutive opponent for Mikey who has held or fought for a world title. It’s a very special fight.
“Top to bottom, this card is what this sport can be at its best. These are hard-working, professional guys who are really a credit to the sport.”
RICHARD STURM, President of Entertainment and Sports for MGM Resorts International
“This weekend’s championship event marks the exciting rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz. This international battle kicks off another year of sensational sports entertainment at our properties in Las Vegas.
“We look forward to another Fight of the Year candidate as Frampton looks to remain undefeated while Santa Cruz looks to reclaim his belt. We look forward to seeing you Saturday night.”