Carl Frampton assesses forthcoming featherweight world title bouts
Former two-weight world titleholder Carl Frampton worked hard to get the better of future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday. In the end, the affable boxer-puncher emerged victorious, securing a wide unanimous decision over the California-based Filipino to all but guarantee himself another world title shot.
In his first fight at home for over three years, Frampton proved to be no less popular among his brethren. It was like old times inside the former Odyssey Arena: an electric atmosphere, ear-bursting noise, a glitzy ring walk, the habitual chanting of “Sweet Caroline” and then a prizefight that truly delivered.
Next up for Frampton, according to promoter Frank Warren, will be one of four world titleholders at Windsor Park (national soccer stadium) in August. For years, the Belfast star has longed to headline at the venue and Warren promised to deliver. The 18,000-seater will not be difficult to fill, and, in fact, Frampton could probably sell the venue out twice over.
So, “The Jackal” has done his part and over the next seven weeks he’ll be doing reconnaissance on three of the four featherweight world titleholders. Only Oscar Valdez, the WBO belt holder, who is still recovering from a broken jaw sustained in his 12-round unanimous decision victory over Scott Quigg in March, won’t see action.
Recently Frampton spoke with RingTV.com and offered his opinions on the forthcoming world title showdowns at 126 pounds:
Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington
Date/ Venue: May 19/ Elland Road, Leeds, England
Title at stake: Selby’s IBF
“If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said Selby stands Warrington on his head and wins easily, but I think Warrington has definitely improved. He’s fit, he’s gritty, he’s very determined, and I think Selby is killing himself at the weight. I remember seeing him in New York when I was fighting Leo Santa Cruz and he must have been (160 pounds). He was absolutely huge. If he’s not dead at the weight, then Selby should win, but I do think he’s struggling. I think the way to beat Selby is pressure, because of the weight issue, and Warrington will bring that. To be honest, though, I still think Selby will win on points.”
Gary Russell Jr. vs. JoJo Diaz
Date/ Venue: May 19/ MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland
Titles at stake: Russell’s WBC
“Inactivity could catch up with Russell, but I still favor him to win. I don’t really understand what’s going on with his career, because he’s immensely talented. If you look at his performance against Vasyl Lomachenko (lost by MD12 in June 2014); he tested him more than anyone else has managed to do with the exception of (Orlando) Salido. JoJo Diaz is a good fighter, but Russell is quality and I think he wins this one. He has very fast hands and speed kills as they say.”
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares
Date/ Venue: June 9/ Staples Centre, Los Angeles
Titles at stake: Cruz’s WBA
“I fancy Santa Cruz. There’s usually fireworks when two Mexicans get together, but I don’t think this will be as good as the first fight. Mares is a good fighter, but I think Santa Cruz wins again and, hopefully, that’s another option down the line for me. It seems I’m the only one calling for that fight, even though it makes perfect sense. It’s 1-1 after two majority decisions and both were great fights. It’s almost like (Team Santa Cruz) are saying, let’s not speak about it and maybe he’ll go away. I understand there’s a very small chance that Santa Cruz would come over here. Recently, he was trying to make out that the second fight in Las Vegas was on neutral ground and he wants to fight me in LA. Next, he’ll want the fight in his fuckin back garden. I’d fight him anywhere. I just want to make the fight happen, and I believe I can beat him. If it has to be LA, then so be it. I’d love Vegas because it’s always a good trip.”
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for THE RING. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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