Boxing

Everything on the line as Carl Frampton weighs-in for Nonito Donaire showdown

Carl Frampton will need to be at his best to beat Nonito Donaire at the SSE Arena tonight Picture Bill Smyth
Andy Watters

CONFUSION reigned at yesterday's weigh-in until Carl Frampton took control.

With the microphone broken and the MC dithering, Frampton stepped off the scales and gave his fans the information they'd come to hear.

“Eight stone, 13 pounds and three ounces,” roared ‘The Jackal' through cupped hands.

Frampton supporters, packed into the Europa Hotel, cheered with delight and a little relief too given Frampton's weight issues last summer.

All that turmoil seems like a long time ago now, but the events of last August and Frampton's split with Cyclone Promotions will linger on until he moves on and moving on means beating Nonito Donaire tonight.

He knows that only his best will do against the Filipino and the scales told a reassuring tale of a man who has left nothing to chance in training for this crucial fight.

Beating Donaire will simultaneously end all the premature talk of a fighter “on the slide” and restore order to a career that had threatened to go off the rails after his loss to Leo Santa Cruz early last year. It will open the door to potential clashes with the winner of Josh Warrington and Lee Selby, possibly at Windsor Park in August, as well as a crack at the WBO title currently held by Oscar Valdez.

But first he has to beat Donaire and that will take a cool head and fast hands.

The ‘Filipino Flash' hit the scales at 8st, 13.5lb yesterday and after the weigh-in came perhaps the friendliest face-off in boxing history.

Frampton has lost his cool at these moments in the past but there wasn't even the slightest hint of animosity between him and Donaire yesterday. They stood smiling face-to-face, then there was a handshake and then a hug and it was all typical of Donaire's demeanour since he arrived in Belfast on Tuesday.

Boxing traditionalists have tut-tutted in bemusement with his constant smile and good humour and they were almost offended when he delighted the crowd at the open workout on Thursday with singing and dancing and an impromptu workout for kids.

But there will be fireworks in the ring tonight.

Now 35, Donaire remains a dangerous force and his handlers feel he now has just the right blend of experience and physical maturity to make an impact at featherweight.

He has won world titles at four weights, was also an interim champion at super-flyweight, and has 24 early wins from 42 fights with a string of devastating knockouts that wouldn't look out of place on a Mike Tyson highlights reel.

So Frampton cannot afford to take any chances with this man because it could take him 18 months to make up the ground defeat would cost him. At 31, does he still have the time to do that? Would he have the energy?

Everything is on the line tonight. Frampton wants to prove to everyone – least of all himself – that he still has the tools to mix it with the world's best and equal – even surpass – what he has achieved so far.

He took control yesterday. He saw what needed to be done and he did it and he'll do the same tonight.

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