Carl Frampton says there's "not a chance" Luke Jackson will spoil party at Windsor Park
Interim WBO Featherweight Title: Carl Frampton (25-1) v Luke Jackson (16-0) (tonight, Windsor Park, 10pm, live on BT Sport)
RUMOUR has it that when Luke Jackson checked into his Belfast hotel, the chirpy receptionist enquired: “Are you over for the fight?”
He could have answered: “Well, actually I am the fight,”, but he's happy to fly under the radar knowing that if he shocks a packed Windsor Park tonight he'll be recognised wherever he goes.
The 33-year-old Australian has been plucked from obscurity and given an unexpected opportunity to grab fame and glory.
It's the fight of his life on the night of Carl Frampton's life.
In the build-up Jackson repeatedly claimed that Frampton was taking victory for granted and looking beyond him to world title rumbles with Josh Warrington, Oscar Valdez or Leo Santa Cruz.
But at yesterday's weigh-in Jackson, drawn, gaunt and pale with the Australian flag draped around his narrow shoulders, painted a different picture.
“I've got the weight done and I'm ready to go,” he said.
“It has been a long road to get here but we're here and I'm excited. It's my destiny and I'm ready to rock.”
A handful of his fans gathered around him yesterday but he's well aware that he'll have few friends in the crowd tonight to cheer him on. Frampton fans will arrive in their droves to bay ‘The Jackal' on to a knockout win.
“I had nerves up until yesterday until I saw Carl again,” he said.
“He's been on my mind for 10 weeks and I'll see him tomorrow night.
“I don't think he has overlooked me, he's ready to fight.”
The arrival of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder – there to pump up the volume on his proposed title rumble with Tyson Fury - added an extra touch of glamour to yesterday's weigh-in at the Europa Hotel.
Wilder had words with John Fury inside and Tyson outside and there will be a few more tonight. Paddy Barnes' fight with Cristofer Rosales could well steal the show but Frampton, who had to “drop the caks” to make the nine-stone limit yesterday, remains the box office draw.
He'd shed a few pounds since he'd trained at Ricky Hatton's gym near Manchester a fortnight ago.
The Tiger's Bay native boxed two rounds with coach Jamie Moore on the pads that day and looked rock solid and powerful. He punches were sharp, spiteful and accurate and Jackson is going to struggle to find a way through them to land meaningful shots of his own tonight.
Moore has now been with Frampton for a year and this is his third fight in his corner. The pair of them arrived together yesterday, smiling and shaking hands with friends and fellow fighters before Frampton weighed-in.
Moore predicts “a big performance” tonight.
“His eyes have always been on the prize,” he said.
“This is a massive occasion for him and he's put all the work in necessary. I've got a feeling you're going to see a big performance.
“The biggest danger with Jackson is the unknown. We really don't know how good he is because he hasn't boxed at the level that Carl has at a professional - but that doesn't necessarily mean that he can't.
“We don't know how good he is and we'll see on the night but I've no doubt in my mind that Carl – when he's on his game like he has been in the gym – is capable of beating any featherweight in the world.
“Whatever Luke Jackson brings, I'm not really that concerned. My only concern was that Carl needed to be in the shape that he's in to beat anyone and he will.”
As an amateur, Jackson made it to the London Olympics – a stage Frampton never graced – but he didn't make it to the round of 16. As a professional he is 16-0 and achieved his ranking with the WBO after winning the Oceanic and Oriental titles but this is undoubtedly an enormous step up in class for him.
“He's a solid fighter,” said Frampton.
“I don't want to put pressure on myself by saying I'm going to stop him but I haven't had a knockout in a while and I'm going to prove that I still carry a dig. There's not a chance that he's going to spoil the party. Not a chance.”
It's impossible to make a case for Jackson winning. If he comes out swinging, expect Frampton to cut him to shreds with booming counters off the back foot. If Jackson tries to feel his way into the fight – which he may do given his lack of experience – Frampton will close the distance, find openings and let his hands go.
Either way, Frampton will control the fight against an opponent who has trained hard but does not have the skills or the power to really trouble him.
Frampton's last stoppage win was almost three years ago, expect him to delight the Windsor Park crowd by ending that run tonight.