Carl Frampton on the brink of making history, WBO 130-pound titlist Jamel Herring stands in his way
“He’s a good guy!”
I’d asked Carl Frampton what came to mind when I mentioned his September 2012 opponent Steve Molitor and this was his response. I laughed hysterically because I’d expected Frampton to remember that Canada’s former IBF junior featherweight titleholder happened to be the last southpaw he’d faced in a professional ring.
Eight-and-a-half years ago.
“Yeah, that’ll be right, a long time ago, but southpaws don’t bother me,” revealed Frampton, who challenges skillful left-hander Jamel Herring for the WBO junior lightweight title at The Rotunda at Caesars, Bluewaters, Dubai on Saturday. “I haven’t fought too many, but I’ve been sparring southpaws and they don’t feel awkward.
“I see southpaws the same way I see orthodox fighters. My distance control and feet help me and that’s what I’ve been using in this camp. I’ve been very good, making the correct decisions in sparring. If you rush in on a southpaw and stay inside their lead foot it makes it easier for them, but if you stay outside it, that kind of negates what they do well. Honestly, I don’t see the southpaw stance being a problem. Herring’s size is more of an issue because he’s a really big guy.”
Frampton is listed at 5-foot-5 and has a 65-inch reach, whereas Herring is 5-foot-10 with a 72-inch wingspan. Those are imposing physical advantages, but while the challenger acknowledges that there’s more to Herring than his dimensions, he is also confident that his own weaponry will give the 35-year-old New Yorker major problems.
“He boxes pretty well, and he can fight on the inside if he has to,” said Frampton (28-2, 16 knockouts) before elaborating on Herring’s arsenal. “For such a big guy, he targets the body well; he’s got a very good straight left hand to the body that he throws from distance.
“I just think my feet are better than his, my handspeed is better, and my distance is better as well. Things are going to have to be perfect for me on the night, but if I do what I did in my last spar and take that into the fight, then I’ll win. It’s not even a question, I really believe that – that’s how confident I am.”
Frampton mentioned his feet, which, certainly at 122 pounds, were a huge factor in him outboxing every opponent he faced. At 126 pounds, he got away from using his wheels, electing to stand his ground a bit more and duke it out. Against Herring, however, it’s likely that Frampton will be required to close the gap whenever the American looks for time and distance, so quick and adept footwork will be essential.
“Absolutely, and there will be points where we have to do that,” Frampton confirmed. “Herring would like to keep it long for the whole fight if he can, but I think he’ll slow down. He’s said that he makes weight easily, but I just don’t believe that. It’s impossible. He boxed at light welterweight as an amateur, so it doesn’t make sense for him to make weight easy. He slows down, we’ve seen it in the middle rounds; he has rounds off, then he waits on the home stretch. I just think his weight struggles will suit me, and I’m going to be fresh and ready to fight hard for the full 12 rounds… if it comes to it.”
When Frampton put forth this argument, I was reminded of Oscar Valdez wrenching the WBC junior lightweight title from Miguel Berchelt last month. The vast majority of fans and media picked Berchelt to win that fight because he was bigger and stronger, but Valdez was the sharper fighter and had a field day en route to a brutal 10th-round knockout triumph.
The 34-year-old Frampton agreed with the comparison and also pointed out that he’s capable of holding his own on the inside regardless.
“Even between fights, I do some weights,” he said. “I’ve started to enjoy it a bit more over the last couple of years, and I’ve been doing PBs in this camp. I did a PB on a deadlift and a PB on a floor press, although I suppose a lot of that has to do with maturing and getting stronger. But I do stay on top of a weights program, I have my strength and conditioning coach out here and he’s been impressed.
“I’m finishing up [hard training] eight pounds over the weight and that’s very good for me. I’ve been eating well to stay at that point, and now that all the hard work is done, I’m going to start bringing the weight down. I’ll lose most of that on fight week and maybe have a couple of pounds to dry out. It all feels good.”
Frampton, who was The Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year for 2016, has already accomplished more than he could ever have imagined. He unified at junior featherweight and lifted the WBA 126-pound title from Leo Santa Cruz in his featherweight debut. A win over Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) would make him Ireland’s first ever three-weight world titleholder.
“This fight means the world to me,” Frampton said. “It means the world to the people I have around me; my current team, it means so much to my family and to people that played any sort of a part in my career from when I started boxing at seven years old. This would be the cherry on top. I never dreamed that I would have the chance to become a three-weight world champion. I probably never dreamed that I had the ability to be a three-weight world champion at the very start. Now, to be one fight away from it, feeling as confident as I do, things have fallen into place and it’s gonna happen.”
Herring-Frampton, plus undercard action, will be broadcast by ESPN+ in the U.S. and by Channel 5 in the U.K.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing