Junior featherweight contender Carl Frampton is poised for the biggest fight of his career, one that would lead to an even more significant fight with a victory.
First up, Frampton (17-0, 12 KOs) will play to a partisan crowd in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland when he faces former titlist Hugo Cazares of Mexico on April 4 in a final eliminator.
The winner of the fight at the Odyssey Arena will become the mandatory challenger for titleholder Leo Santa Cruz, an opponent Frampton has called out. Santa Cruz has returned the favor, saying after his last two fights that he would also like to fight Frampton -- a bout that would match high-pressure, crowd-pleasers.
But Frampton is first focused on Cazares, a wily southpaw veteran two-division titlist.
"The fight is now under three weeks away, it’s great to be back in Belfast and the camp has gone well," the 27-year-old Frampton said this week at a news conference in Belfast. "We're 100 percent focused on Hugo Cazares and it is my time to secure my world title shot. I want that green WBC belt and I know what I have to do to get my hands on it.
"It is brilliant to be fighting in my hometown against a former two-weight world champion and I can't wait for April 4th."
Cazares (40-7-2, 27 KOs), who turns 36 on Monday, is a very experienced former junior flyweight and junior bantamweight titleholder whose previous four bouts have been in the junior featherweight division. He is a big-time underdog, although he has won five fights in a row since losing his junior bantamweight belt by split decision to Tomonobu Shimizu in Japan in 2011.
"I am happy, my camp has been good and I am looking forward to boxing in Belfast," Cazares said at the news conference. "I know the crowd will be behind him but the only thing that matters is what happens in the ring. The fans, the people that come along can say what they want but nobody will help us in the ring.
"I just do my job in the best way I can. I plan on doing a great job against Carl Frampton and this will give me the chance for another world title. I know he's a strong fighter, he has fought with a Mexican fighter Raul Hirales and also KO'd Kiko Martinez. But there's a big difference between Kiko Martinez, Raul Hirales and myself."