Thursday, September 21, 2023  |



Carl Frampton does more than enough to prove he belongs

Fighters Network
Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Carl Frampton’s U.S. debut didn’t go as planned, at least not in the first round. The much-hyped Irishman went down twice in the opening three minutes on Saturday in El Paso, Texas, much to the surprise of those who figured he’d dominate Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.

But, ultimately, they figured right.

Frampton overcame his early troubles to take complete control of the bout, fighting behind his quick jab to administer a significant beating against his game, but overmatched opponent and win a one-sided unanimous decision to retain his IBF junior featherweight title.

Frampton (21-0, 14 knockouts) seemed tight at the opening bell, perhaps because he put so much pressure on himself to make a big statement.

Thus, he came out somewhat frantically and paid the price. A stiff left jab caught him off-balance and his left glove touched the canvas early in the round. That was knockdown No. 1. The second came late in the round, when a hard right brought Frampton to a knee.

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

The champion wasn’t hurt badly but he very quickly found himself in a deep hole.

“You look at him and it looks like he’s not a big puncher. Man, can he punch,” Frampton said afterward.

The knockdowns were shocking given expectations but they meant nothing in the end.

After another round or two, Frampton settled down and into a rhythm and his superior pedigree became obvious. He pushed his quick jab into Gonzalez’s face to set up hard, accurate power punches that took an increasingly significant toll on the challenger as the fight progressed.

Gonzalez (25-2-2, 15 KOs) remained on his feet and was never seriously hurt in spite of the onslaught but he lost almost every round after the first. He also lost two points because of low blows.

The official scores were 116-108, 116-108 and 115-109, meaning Frampton won 10 of 12 rounds on two cards and nine of 12 on the third. THE RING scored it 116-108 for Frampton.

That’s a thorough beating.

The champion, making the second defense of the title he took from Kiko Martinez last September, was disappointed with his performance because he wanted to make a more significant impression in front of American fans.

He had said beforehand that he needed a knockout to take full advantage of the opportunity.

“It wasn’t the performance that I wanted,” Frampton said. “I don’t want to make excuses. I took a little bit too much weight off the last few days. We need to make decisions where we go from here.”

That means that he might be ready to move up to the featherweight division, where many compelling matchups await.

One juicy and much-discussed possibility is that he could take on the winner of the Aug. 29 featherweight fight between fellow PBC fighters Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares, perhaps before the end of the year.

Frampton was disappointed in himself but he certainly did more than enough in his first fight on U.S. soil to prove he belongs among the best fighters in and around his division.