Boxing

Carl Frampton determined to prove doubters wrong in Belfast fight-night comeback

Andy Watters

IRELAND has produced some great fighters down the years, but only Steve Collins has matched Carl Frampton's achievement of winning world titles in two weight classes.

Frampton reigned supreme at super-bantam and featherweight, but the Tigers Bay man still believes he has a point to prove as he prepares to return to the ring on November 18 for the first time since losing to his title to Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas on January 28.

Frampton is now managed by MTK, promoted by Frank Warren's Queensbury Promotions and is the new face of BT Sport's boxing coverage, but there are some who would say he is one slip away from a career-ending defeat. He is determined to prove his doubters wrong and has all the tools to do just that.

“I still think certain people are writing me off, thinking that I'm done, I'm over the hill after one bad-ish performance,” he said.

“I lost to a three-time world champion (Santa Cruz) and a lot of people are saying that's me finished but that was an off performance from me and there's still plenty more to give. The way things are going for me in the gym, I'm feeling good.”

Now 30, Frampton half-joked yesterday that his career could go on for another five years. Next summer will see him realize his dream of fighting at Northern Ireland football Mecca Windsor Park.

“I think Frank can deliver Windsor, I don't think it will be too hard to deliver,” he said.

“If we get the right opponent and with the boys on the undercard – Jamie (Conlan) and Paddy (Barnes) and everyone else involved in title fights – I think Frank will deliver that.

“There is more of a chance of Santa Cruz coming over now than there ever was with the backing of BT Sport. You see what they're doing with the football, they have overtaken Sky Sports in terms of the football coverage they're getting.

“They are dipping their toes into boxing at the minute and you'll see them dipping their toes in a wee bit more in the future.”

Frampton confirmed that he had talks about a switch to Eddie Hearn's Matchroom stable but the offer from Warren came with the carrot of him being the draw card for BT Sport's boxing coverage. In the end, it was too good to turn down.

“I spoke to Eddie and I had a good offer from him but the best offer came from Frank and BT and that's the bottom line,” he said.

“I went with the offer that made the most financial sense to me and of course it was about how they are going to promote me on their channel as well.

“I believe that BT are going to push me as the face of their channel which was an appeal in itself for me.”

As he embarks on the final phase of his career, Frampton acknowledged the public support he has received since splitting with Barry McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions in August.

“I moved on for the right reasons,” he said.

“You never know how the public is going to react but the support I've got since the move has been incredible.

“I owe the fans a lot and I want to repay them by bringing the big nights of boxing back to Belfast and I think that BT and Frank and MTK all want to do the same.”

As well as a third fight with Santa Cruz, Frampton has been repeatedly linked with IBF champion Lee Selby and WBC king Gary Russell jnr. Now WBO champ Oscar Valdez (a stablemate of Michael Conlan in LA) and Leeds native Josh Warrington have also emerged as possible opponents.

“Oscar Valdez is being mentioned more than ever,” he said.

“Valdez is a great fighter and I love watching his fights, he's very exciting. He can definitely punch but he is there to be hit as well because he commits to every shot he throws – he tries to knock people out with every shot.

“I think our two styles would gel for a very exciting fight.”

He added: “Josh Warrington is fighting a final eliminator for the IBF title so if he wins that then I doubt he's going to fight me in between.

“Who knows? He could have a world title and if he has then me and Warrington at Windsor Park would be appealing. He would probably want to do it at Elland Road, but I'm fighting at Windsor next year and everybody needs to understand that.”

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