Boxing

Carl Frampton backs Bernard Dunne to succeed in IABA High Performance role

Former world champion Carl Frampton has tipped Bernard Dunne to be a success if, as expected, the Dubliner is named the new director of the High Performance unit
Neil Loughran

FORMER two-weight world champion Carl Frampton believes Bernard Dunne can help bring the good times back to Irish boxing after a difficult couple of years.

Dubliner Dunne is set to be confirmed as the Irish Athletic Boxing Association’s (IABA) new High Performance director, and his expected appointment comes six months after head coach Zaur Antia agreed a new deal to stay until 2021.

The director’s post has been vacant since the departure of Gary Keegan in 2008 when Frampton was still part of the High Performance unit.

‘The Jackal’ turned over to the paid ranks the following year but has kept a close eye on developments in Dublin and he feels recruiting Dunne – a former WBA super-bantamweight world champion like Frampton – would be a good move.

“Gary Keegan was good, he knew his stuff, and then Billy Walsh kind of took over his role and he was an ex-boxer too who had the boxer’s interests at heart - I think Bernard Dunne will be the same,” said the Tigers Bay fighter, speaking at the launch of a new Harp mural in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter yesterday.

“Obviously there’s a few changes that need to be made to the High Performance, the whole set-up really. The main thing they did was keep Zaur Antia as a trainer.

“Zaur’s a fantastic coach, one of the best I’ve ever worked with. He’s very passionate as well and I know there were a few countries sniffing around after him.

“Since the High Performance was set up, and since Zaur came, Ireland has been one of the powerhouses in boxing. Obviously they didn’t get the results they wanted at the Olympics but they’ve still got a lot of talent and I think they can come strong again.

“It’s good to have an ex-boxer involved like Bernard Dunne and I think he will make the right decisions for the boxers.”

Meanwhile, Frampton has admitted he is still unsure who he will be fighting this summer as he rebuilds from the first loss of his pro career against Leo Santa Cruz back in January.

It is widely expected that the 30-year-old will fight at Windsor Park in either July or August but, with Frampton set to go back into training camp at the end of this month, an opponent has yet to be confirmed.

‘The Jackal’ isn’t “overly optimistic” about a third fight with Santa Cruz this summer - the Mexican is set to renew his rivalry with Abner Mares - while a possible date with IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby also looks to be off the table.

The IBF has ordered Selby to defend his title against Jonathan Barrios, putting a fight with Frampton on the long finger.

“We are edging closer,” said ‘The Jackal’.

“There’s a small chance Santa Cruz might happen, I’m not overly optimistic. Selby, there’s a small chance but I’m not overly optimistic for that either. Strange things happen in this game and there can be curve balls coming from everywhere.

“I need to have a credible opponent - I need to get up for a fight and fighting a no mark is not going to interest me. It needs to be a good name with good names on his record that he’s beaten.”

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