Carl Frampton: ‘Josh Warrington is not gonna know what hit him’
Very few fighters get the chance to fulfill a dream in boxing.
Regardless of how much we love the sweet science, this is a brutal and physically destructive business that sucks the majority of its exponents in and spits them out. When you see a fighter celebrate a world title win, the euphoria that they exhibit is a release of all the pain and suffering they’ve endured down the years. For those who reach that pinnacle, the relief must be exquisite.
Former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton has lived the dream – more than once. The Belfast native won the IBF junior featherweight title from Kiko Martinez in September 2014, before unifying the division by dethroning WBA titleholder Scott Quigg in February 2016. A move up to featherweight followed and Frampton immediately annexed the WBA title from the previously unbeaten Leo Santa Cruz in July 2016. “The Jackal” has also threw down in the boxing Meccas of New York and Las Vegas.
Despite losing a decision in an immediate rematch to Santa Cruz in January 2017, Frampton remains a huge star in the sport and the dream-making process continues. In August, the 31-year-old boxer-puncher performed on what he considers to be hallowed ground at Windsor Park, home of the Northern Ireland national soccer team, against Australian Luke Jackson. An estimated crowd of 24,000 fans were in attendance.
“The occasion was amazing, it was an incredible atmosphere,” Frampton told The Ring. “I was actually a bit nervous about how the atmosphere would be because it wasn’t a world title fight or a big name, but it was just brilliant from start to finish.
“There was pressure on fight night. I was expected to beat up Luke Jackson, which brings its own kind of pressure, and there was the pressure of fighting at Windsor Park, but pressure is something I deal with very well. It was a night I’ll never forget. It sounds vain, but I remember walking out of the ring and looking at my fuckin’ face on the big screen and thinking, ‘This is great!’”
But as Frampton himself alluded to, only one thing was missing – a world title.
Prior to posting his ninth-round stoppage of Jackson, an agreement had been reached for Frampton (26-1, 15 knockouts) to face unbeaten IBF featherweight titleholder Josh Warrington. The negotiations for that bout were relatively easy because both fighters wanted the matchup to happen and both are promoted by Frank Warren.
Warrington, a popular 28-year-old from Leeds, England, has been flying as a professional, claiming British, Commonwealth, European and world championships over the course of 27 straight wins. In May, the cerebral pressure-fighter outpointed Welshman Lee Selby to claim the IBF title, and this Saturday he defends for the first time against Frampton at the Manchester Arena.
“I think Warrington put on a good performance against Selby, but a lot of it was to do with Selby’s weight-making struggles,” reasoned Frampton. “That sounds like I’m discrediting Warrington, and I don’t want to come across like a dickhead, but I think a year-and-a-half ago, Lee Selby would have stood him on his head.
“It says a lot that Selby is moving straight up to lightweight, and he’s missing out (junior lightweight) altogether. It was a good performance, but Selby was fucked at the weight and Warrington couldn’t get rid of him. Selby also had two terrible cuts and still stayed in there. On the night, I was saying, ‘Brilliant from Warrington’ but, in hindsight, having watched the fight back, I now think, ‘How the fuck did you not get rid of him?”
Frampton, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 126 pounds, strongly believes that Warrington and his team have bitten off more than they can chew for their first title defense.
“They think I’m on the slide and they’re making a huge mistake,” said the former champion. “They’re saying it’s all about timing which is actually silly. They said it was timing for Selby. Does that mean 18 months earlier Warrington gets beat? It was timing because Selby was desperate at the weight, now it’s about timing because I’m over the hill. We’ll see.
“People have this opinion of Warrington that he’s some sort of warrior and non-stop workhorse. That’s not what I’ve seen in his fights, his last three fights in particular. There’s no doubt he’s a good fighter, but I’m not seeing the guy people have placed on this pedestal. He’s not gonna know what hit him.
“I’m expecting a tough fight, there’s no way it’s gonna be easy, but I do have it within me to win this fight convincingly. If pressure fighters are being hit with clean, sharp shots, then they don’t like to come forward as much. It’s about me being accurate, nailing him with hard shots and getting his respect. We’ll see how he wants to fight after that.”
Following his only career loss to Santa Cruz, things have finally fallen into place for Frampton. There was the acrimonious split with Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions, and Jamie Moore replaced Shane McGuigan as head-trainer. There has definitely been upheaval, but victories over Horacio Garcia, Nonito Donaire and Jackson have him back where he wants to be.
Patience, however, is not an attribute the ambitious Frampton is known for and there’s still some frustration evident when discussing his recent career path.
“I unified with Quigg, moved up to beat Santa Cruz in a close fight, then lost to him in a close fight,” recalled Frampton. “From there, I should have been moved straight into a world title shot. That’s what should have happened, but instead I went around the houses.
“I’m a ticket-seller, but it has taken a long while to get here. Obviously there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes with my former team, but I should have walked straight into a world title shot or, at the very least, had one fight, then a world title fight.”
But despite it taking longer than what he would have liked, the dream moment has arrived once again for Frampton. Will he put Warrington in dreamland or does Warrington turn this one into a nightmare?
Naturally, Frampton sees only one winner.
“I’m gonna win this fight and I want to win it convincingly,” said Frampton bluntly. “I believe that I’m a better fighter than Josh Warrington – simple as. I’ve watched his last three fights and my best beats anything he’s done in any of those three fights. I believe that if I’m switched on, then I win the fight – that’s it.
“Victory will mean the world to me because there are a lot of people who think I’m done. I want to prove people wrong. I genuinely believe that I can beat any featherweight in the world. If you want to talk about Santa Cruz, (Oscar) Valdez, Gary Russell or Josh Warrington, I believe I can beat them all. But it’s about beating Josh Warrington first.”
Josh Warrington defends his IBF featherweight title against Carl Frampton exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office, Saturday December 22. Watch for just £19.95, for more info visit www.bt.com/sportboxoffice
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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