“I was going back to my corner pissed off, but I’m experienced enough that I shouldn’t have let it get to me. You live and learn I guess.
“He was very clever and yeah, he outsmarted us. So, fair play to him. We got it wrong and I hold my hands up for that.”
“Listen, he took us massively by surprise, there’s no denying that.
“But Léo had fought basically the same way his entire career, so where was the evidence that he was going to suddenly get up on his toes and use his jab?
“He was telling me beforehand he was going to box, but who gives their game plan away? He double bluffed me. He was clever. But in no way was I being disrespectful to an opponent.”
What’s done is done, and along with Carl’s prized championship belt, Santa Cruz also left the MGM Grand as the man who busted the Jackal’s unbeaten record.
Boxing managers have an old adage they tell their charges, something along the lines of wait and see who is in the dressing room when you lose. I have always been conscious of that, eager to commiserate as much as congratulate. But it is true that words in the ear of a beaten fighter come harder than those for the victor and I have to wonder whether a period of solitude is not the best antidote for defeat.
“It probably is,” Frampton agrees.
“I’ve had to do a few appearances at things the past week and it’s been weird doing them after losing.
“I probably would prefer just to be on my own with the family.
“People come up and say well done. I know they’re just being nice, but it almost comes across as patronising to me.
“I left my daughter Carla to school this morning and after another parent said well done, Carla said, why are they saying well done if you got beat? I just looked at her and replied, I’m thinking the same thing, kid.”
Six-year-old daughters have a knack of being brutally honest, but Carl can take her digs on the chin as well as he did Santa Cruz’s in the ring.
It has been tough as the reality of defeat has set in, and he has still been unable to get through watching more than two rounds of the fight on television, but the healing process is already well underway.
“I’m disappointed of course, but I try to look for positives. It’s true I didn’t perform and was maybe only showing 70% of what I can do, and yet it was still relatively close.
“He deserved the decision, but it was close so I’m still pushing a three-weight world champion when I’m not at my best.”
“I also try to put it all in perspective. I always knew the chances were I wasn’t going to retire undefeated and that this day was going to come.
“I never saw myself as a Mayweather or a Calzaghe or a Marciano, finishing without a loss. They were all special, but the unbeaten record thing isn’t such a big deal to me. People can get 30-0 records without really fighting anyone and at the end of the day, what does it really mean?”
“I have said for years now that I just want to be in big exciting fights.
“I’ll never cherry-pick to pad my record, I want to fight the guys at the very top.
“It is only big fights for me from now on in, but risk comes with those fights so I know I can potentially lose every time I enter the ring now.”
Spoken like a true people’s champion, and it’ll be music to the ears of the legions within the Jackal Army that there will be plenty more glory nights to come.
In terms of travelling support, no boxer on the planet currently comes close to the boy from Tiger’s Bay, and he is keen to repay his fans’ loyalty with a night out closer to home, next time.
“I want to fight at home next for the fans.
“It is hard for me being away from my wife and the kids, but it is also for everyone who has spent so much travelling to America, to be able to watch me in Belfast.
“The Odyssey [the largest indoor arena in Northern Ireland] is too small now so it needs to be outside, it needs to be Windsor Park. With our weather, that means it needs to be in the summer.”
As for the opponent, Frampton only has eyes for redemption. “I want Léo next.
“It’s fresh in my mind and I want to get him back.
“It would be a huge sporting event, massive for the whole country. You can get 25,000 in there with the ring in the centre circle and we’d sell it out no problem.”
The question being asked before the pair were even out of the ring in Vegas last month is still valid, however. Santa Cruz has never fought outside the US or Mexico, so will he agree to cross the Atlantic and enter the Jackal’s den? Carl remains optimistic.
“He said he would, so now we’ll see if he’s a man of his word. I think it’s only fair he does. I was the champion, gave him an immediate rematch and fought in Vegas. They try to say that’s neutral, but he drove from his home in California and I flew nearly 5,000 miles so you tell me how that’s neutral. I’ve fought him twice in the country he lives in now, so I think it’s time he came to mine.”
If fairness played a predominant role in boxing negotiations, then Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan would have already booked Windsor Park for a Saturday night in July.
Unfortunately, dollars and cents tend to be the determining factor and US television networks provide most of those. That said, Santa Cruz is clearly one of boxing’s good guys and he and Frampton share a healthy and genuine mutual respect for one another.
If ever a champ from the other side of the pond was going to voluntarily cross the water for a 50-50 dust-up, it may well be him.
There is precedent for a Hispanic champion making a rare jaunt outside the Americas to defend his WBA featherweight title in a football stadium on the British Isles.
Thirty-two years ago Eusebio Pedroza did just that and returned to Panama empty handed. And the native left carrying his belt? The same Mr McGuigan currently in charge of Frampton’s affairs. An entire nation is now hoping history can repeat itself.