Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire fighting to save their careers

Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire in Belfast at the Europa Hotel ahead of their big fight on April 21 at the SSE Arena Picture by Hugh Russell
Anthony Gunning at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

RELATIONS may have be cordial between Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire at yesterday’s Europa Hotel press conference ahead of their featherweight showdown at the SSE Arena on April 21, but both men believe they will be fighting for their careers at world level when they trade leather in spring.

The former World Fighters of the Year traded compliments rather than insults with Frampton rating the ‘Filipino Flash’ as possibly the best away fighter to visit these shores.

The 35-year-old California resident even had some support in Belfast yesterday, but it was ‘The Jackal’ most had come to see ahead of a fight that could pave the way for a world title opportunity in summer.

That could be against the winner of Lee Selby v Josh Warrington showdown, or perhaps even a rematch against Scott Quigg who challenges WBO champion Oscar Valdez in March.

Frampton revealed his promoter Frank Warren is pushing for the April 21 meeting with Donaire to be a final eliminator for that title.

These scenarios will come to nothing if he slips up against four-weight champion Donaire, but he believes this high-risk strategy will leave him primed to regain world champion status.

“I’m a good fighter, I’ve won big things so what’s the point in fighting knock-over jobs? It’s not good for me and it’s not good for boxing so it’s just great to be involved in these occasions,” said Frampton, himself a two-weight champion and 2016’s Fighter of the Year.

“My objective is to win a world title and I’m hoping to fight for one in the summer so what better opponent to get you ready for something like that than Nonito Donaire?”

Frampton has tasted defeat just once in a 25-fight pro career – when relinquishing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz last January – while three of Donaire’s four losses have come in title world fights against Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nicholas Walters and, most recently, Jesse Magdaleno.

There is no doubt it takes an elite fighter at the top of their game to overcome either man and the pair accept it will take just that to have their hand raised on the night.

Frampton is well aware of the threat Donaire poses and likewise, the Filipino acknowledges this is a huge test to see whether he can rescale the heights he has done in the past.

“Carl is an incredible fighter,” said the 35-year-old who won his first world title in 2007, two years before Frampton turned pro.

“He is also a type who can box, can fight so in a way we are similar in our ways of fighting. There are a lot of similarities in being able to fight, to box.

“He has done well against Santa Cruz so he’s not someone you can take lightly. You have to be 100 per cent or there’s no turning back.”

An all-out war may not be the wisest approach for Frampton and one unlikely to be in the game-plan devised by Jamie Moore, but it is certainly a fight that should deliver and has drawn huge interest on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Belfast man knows switching-off could be fatal against a man with proven knockout power and he says he will make sure he is firing on all cylinders on the night.

“There are fighters who have certain styles and are good at one or two things, but Nonito can do a bit of everything,” added Frampton.

“He’s a slick boxer when he needs to be, but he has devastating KO power and that’s the last thing to leave a fighter – punch power.

I’ve seen Nonito put guys to sleep, so I’ll need to be switched on from start to finish.”

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