Boxing

Carl Frampton to fight former world champion Donaire

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye
Neil Loughran

CARL Frampton has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire after signing up to fight former four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire at the SSE Arena on April 7, 2018.

‘The Jackal’ returned to action last month after a 10-month lay-off and, despite grinding out a 10-round win, wasn’t at his best against Horacio Garcia.

Afterwards Frampton suggested he would allow his team at MTK and Frank Warren Promotions – rather than himself – to select future opponents following a tough test against the unheralded Mexican.

And his advisors have taken something of a risk, perhaps calculated, by pitting their man against Donaire.

Frampton is understood to have kept a close eye on Donaire when both were operating at super-bantamweight, with a possible fight mooted before.

And yesterday Frampton’s promoter Frank Warren confirmed the deal had been done for an SSE Arena showdown.

"On April 7 we will be in Belfast,” he said yesterday, speaking at the homecoming press conference of middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders.

“Carl Frampton will be fighting Nonito Donaire. That's a cracking fight and a great fight for Carl. We will have further details in the New Year."

Ticket details are expected to be announced in the coming days, but already bookmakers have installed Frampton as a raging hot favourite, offering odds of 1/6 for the Belfast man to succeed.

In a 17-year professional career, the ‘Filipino Flash’ has held world titles at flyweight, bantamweight and super-bantamweight before making the move up to featherweight.

A huge name in his native Philippines, Donaire was once considered among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world

However, at 35 and with three defeats in his last 10 fights, he is undoubtedly long past his best and the decision to match him with Frampton now could be a good one.

The first time Donaire stepped up to featherweight, three years ago, he looked far from comfortable at the 126lb limit and was stopped in the sixth round by Jamaican powerhouse Nicolas Walters.

Los Angeles-based Donaire has become something of a road warrior in recent years, boxing in Macao, the Philippines and Puerto Rico as well as a host of American cities since 2014.

Therefore he is unlikely to be fazed by the prospect of coming up against a hostile Belfast crowd.

“I am very excited about it,” he said about his date with Frampton.

“He is an incredible fighter and I have always wanted to get in the ring with incredible guys. There is a lot of excitement, a lot of people are wanting to see it, so I am ready and willing to go anywhere.

“I have great respect for you, you’re an incredible fighter and that’s what it’s all about, being in the ring with incredible fighters.”

There is sure to be plenty of interest in the fight, and for Frampton there is the carrot of a potential Windsor Park fight against either Josh Warrington or Lee Selby next summer.

Frampton has made no secret of his desire to box at Windsor, and has long been linked with IBF champion Selby.

And yesterday Warren also confirmed that Warrington-Selby showdown would take place in Leeds next year, most likely in April or May.

Warren added: "Selby-Warrington is a done deal, that's signed, and we'll be announcing a date for that in the next few weeks.”

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