Boxing

Carl Frampton Windsor Park show will still go on as search for opponent continues

Lee Selby (left) in action against Josh Warrington during their IBF World Featherweight bout at Elland Road, Leeds
Andy Watters

JOSH Warrington’s impressive IBF featherweight title victory over Lee Selby last Saturday night has thrown a huge spanner into the works of Carl Frampton’s Windsor Park spectacular.

Defending champion Selby was expected to win comfortably at Elland Road but the weight-drained Welshman was battered into submission over 12 rounds by relentless Yorkshireman Warrington in Leeds and the new IBF champion won’t be defending his title in Belfast this summer.

With 25,000 seats to fill at Windsor, a major world title fight is essential and, with Leo Santa Cruz (WBA) not interested in travelling to Belfast, Gary Russell junior (WBC) out of the frame and Oscar Valdez (WBO) injured, there has been speculation that Frampton’s Windsor Park dream could be put on ice. But a spokesman for Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions says the August open air fight night will still go ahead.

“I wouldn’t have thought that there’s any danger of the show not going ahead,” he said.

“Frank has already confirmed the date and everything is in place for the stadium. Warrington winning has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works, but there are options out there for Carl.”

There has been speculation that Valdez – who is currently sidelined with a broken jaw – could move up to super-featherweight, meaning that interim champion Frampton would be promoted to permanent status and would be able to defend the title in August.

Failing that, a rematch with Scott Quigg (the man who broke Valdez’s jaw in a fight he lost) is a possibility, but the Bury man, who lost to Frampton in Manchester back in 2016, is no longer a world champion.

Warrington was at ringside in Belfast when Frampton out-pointed Horacio Garcia in August last year, and has said he is keen to return with his gloves on, but he’ll need to rest and refocus after 12 gruelling rounds over Selby

“Carl Frampton keeps on getting mentioned but Windsor Park might be a little bit too soon, we'll have to see about that,” Warrington said after his split decision win.

“I wouldn't mind going back to the Leeds Arena, have another nutty night there, defend the title and then possibly see about fighting Carl after that.

“About two weeks ago I passed Carl and I saw that he'd picked Selby to win so I said: ‘Listen, Selby's having it and after that we'll have a chat and I wouldn't mind coming to Windsor Park and fighting you'. The Leeds fans love an away day - a Leeds fan invasion into Belfast.”

But Warren will not throw his new world champion into the lion’s den against Frampton in his first defence. If Warrington-Frampton does happen, it could be next summer – and probably at Elland Road in Leeds where the home fighter’s vocal fanbase and Frampton’s travelling support should create a memorable atmosphere.

Warren hinted after the fight that Warrington could make a bread-and-butter first defence of his title in Leeds – possibly at the city’s First Direct Arena – before turning his focus to Frampton.

“I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere soon,” Warren said.

“The Carl Frampton fight’s there to be done. Carl’s a great guy the same as Josh, two really superb boxers, and both have got tremendous fanbases.

“You can imagine what the atmosphere will be like when they get it on and we’ve got to think about how we do that.

“The only problem is that for here and any other football ground, the football season starts. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a natural fight but in the meantime it’s time to rest. We’ve got plenty of time to talk business.”

RUADHAN Farrell takes on Larne’s Kelvin McDonald for a semi-professional Irish lightweight title on Saturday night in what he hopes will be his final fight before he turns professional.

The all-action Belfast scrapper, who began his career at Newington ABC, had spells at Belfast Kronk, Star and Ledley Hall, before switching to John Breen’s gym.

“I wanted bigger and better things and I have been with John a couple of months now,” explained crowd-pleaser Farrell.

“Kelvin McDonald was a good amateur and has loads of experience so this is my toughest fight, but I have worked hard in the gym and on the roads, so this title is mine and it’s coming home to Belfast.”

Farrell has been sparring with emerging Coalisland pro Feargal McCrory and Sean Magee at Breen’s Gym in preparation and says he’s in great shape for Saturday’s ‘Mac’s Fight Night’ at the INF, Lurgan.

“I have learned a lot from Fearghal and Sean and I’m in good hands with John,” he said.

“After this fight, I will be going into the professional game. I’ve had lots of amateur and semi-professional experience and I think the time is right to move on.

“I think I can go all the way to the top and hopefully fight for a few titles as a professional.”

JOSH Taylor was in a bullish mood as the countdown to his WBC world super lightweight final eliminator fight with Viktor Postol continued in Glasgow.

The two will face each other at the SSE Hydro in the city on June 23, with both boxers keen to move on to a world-title bout should they win.

Postol makes the trip to Scotland looking to get back to his position of 2016, when he held the super-lightweight title before losing to Terence Crawford.

And while acknowledging his team have taken a gamble by setting up such a fight so soon in his career, Taylor is certain he will emerge victorious.

"I know what this fight means," said Taylor, who has a perfect 12-0-0 record in professional boxing.

"I want to be world champion and Viktor Postol is standing in the way of me becoming world champion.

"I need to focus on him and make sure I get past him and get past him well and move on.

"If I don't get past him, my dream is then a little bit further away and I'll have to take a couple of steps back and rebuild again, but that is not going to happen.

"I am going to win and I will move on and challenge for that world title.

"I am fully confident that I can beat any fighter that is put in front of me.

"I feel I have got youth over him, I have speed over him, I've got power as well and I can match him in his departments and beat him in other departments. I feel really confident."

TYSON Fury will launch his comeback against Albania's Sefer Seferi, his promoter Frank Warren has announced.

The former IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion finally returns to the ring at the Manchester Arena on June 9 after an absence of over two-and-a-half years, and in Seferi fights an opponent who is a career cruiserweight.

Seferi, 39, has lost only once, at heavyweight against Manuel Charr in September 2016, and he has been significantly more active than Fury, fighting four times since Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko 10 months earlier.

He therefore represents the type of opponent Fury and his new promoter Warren have targeted since next month's date was confirmed.

Seferi is expected to be durable without posing a significant threat, giving the 29-year-old Fury the chance to shed some of the ring-rust that will have accumulated over the course of their scheduled 10 rounds. He will also be his first opponent since working with new trainer Ben Davison following his split from uncle Peter Fury.

Tyson Fury and Warren plan for him to fight at least twice more before the conclusion of 2018, in an attempt to continue to build the stamina he has worked on since gaining and losing so much weight while he struggled with depression, therefore avoiding the pitfalls that recently undermined David Haye.

It is next year that he will target higher-profile and more dangerous fights, once Seferi and further keep-busy opponents have been overcome.

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