Northern Irish sensation Carl Frampton knows a win this weekend should set up a showdown with WBC super bantamweight ruler Leo Santa Cruz.
Friday’s clash with rugged Mexican Hugo Fidel Cazares is a final eliminator to face the unbeaten Santa Cruz, who has 27 wins and a draw from 28 outings.
Should Frampton fly through this test as expected, it also serves as the first stepping stone towards a monumental showdown with fellow Brit and WBA regular champion Scott Quigg.
‘The Jackal’ has already showed he belongs on the world stage. After stopping Kiko Martinez in eight rounds back in February 2013, the Irishman could only look on in frustrated fashion as Martinez secured a shock victory against Jhonathan Romero, securing the IBF world title in the process.
While the Spaniard was busy demolishing Jeffrey Mathebula in a voluntary defence back in December, Frampton was left to look on ringside after defeating limited Frenchman Jeremy Parodi in a mandatory European title fight months earlier.
Despite discussions after the Mathebula fight with Maravilla Box, promoters of Martinez, no deal was agreed and the 28-year-old travels to Japan later this month to face Hozumi Hasegawa.
With the IBF route seemingly at a dead end, Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan explored other avenues and negotiated a final eliminator with the WBC against Cazares, taking place on Friday night at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.
Veteran Cazares is a former super-flyweight world champion and undefeated in five fights since his last defeat in August 2011. Frampton enters the contest as a heavy betting favourite but it represents a good test ahead of a potential Santa Cruz bout.
A date for that match-up remains uncertain as yet. The Mexican won a mandatory defence on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo, comfortably outpointing Cristian Mijares, and therefore the WBC will almost certainly not order another mandatory defence until early 2015.
Santa Cruz has stated in numerous interviews he wants the fight this summer, but Golden Boy Promotions may steer him towards an easier voluntary bout before then.
All the Irishman can do is impress this weekend. If he does just that, he steps ever closer to his world title dream.
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