Boxing

Undecided Carl Frampton still has 'plenty left' but Josh Warrington rejects talk of rematch

Josh Warrington (right) and Carl Frampton embrace after the World Featherweight Championship at Manchester Arena..
Andy Watters

WILL he fight again? Carl Frampton still hasn’t made his mind up about that but if the right offer is put in front of him you can bet he’ll be back in the gym.

Now that the dust has settled on his loss to Josh Warrington on December 22, Frampton insists there is plenty left in his tank. Losing to Warrington was a bad night, he says, a bad performance when he was dragged into a brawl and he doesn’t want to out like that.

“Everyone has a plan until they get a dig in the head,” he admits when you ask him why the fight in Manchester turned out the way it did.

He insists he’ll never become that ageing warrior, long past his prime refusing to accept that the magic has gone who carries on without realising he is dismantling his legacy with every minute of every loss against an unheard of bum.

He only wants "meaningful fights" and if he got the offer of a Warrington rematch (the Leeds fighter says that will not happen) or a shot at one of the other featherweight belts Frampton would take it. But will he? With a court case over allegedly withheld earnings against former handlers Cyclone Promotions to begin in May, he says that, if he does come back, it won’t be until the summer.

“Warrington was a tough fight,” he says, looking back on that unforgettable night at Manchester Arena.

The atmosphere was electric, the best of his career and the best many globe-trotting veteran boxing reporters had ever experienced. But that is cold comfort for Frampton.

“It was physically hard and it’s still going to take a while to get over it to be honest,” he adds.

“I’m annoyed at myself. I’m not denying that Josh Warrington is a good fighter but if you get beat by a Leo Santa Cruz or someone you can deal with that a bit easier. I just believe in my own head that I can beat Josh Warrington if I fight him again.

“It just didn’t go right on the night. I started badly and I fought his fight. It was a good fight, an exciting fight for the casual but it just wasn’t me at my best.

“People have bad nights and Warrington was very good and won the fight and he won it deservedly.”

‘Leeds Warrior’ Warrington met him in the middle of the ring with a furious two-handed close range assault after a minute had gone. Frampton threw caution to the wind and went hell-for-leather but Warrington came out ahead and he did the same when they traded again in round two.

Those exchanges sapped the strength out of Frampton’s legs and left him chasing the fight.

“I got in a fight when I didn’t need to,” Frampton reflected.

“I’m a boxer, that’s my best attribute; my feet and my distance control are good but none of that really worked for me on the night. It just didn’t go right for me.

“This is sport and sometimes you have a bad performance and that’s what it was. I believe that if I get back to what I can do best, how I was a couple of fights ago, I think I could beat guys like Warrington. I’m not being disrespectful but it was a bad night for me.

“I hope he goes on to beat Kid Galahad (mandatory challenger) and I’d like to do it again maybe at some point depending on what happens now with my career because I still haven’t made a final decision as to what I want to do.”

Warrington says he doesn’t want to give him another shot and, if he were in the Yorkshireman’s shoes, Frampton might view things the same way. But there are other routes back to the top for him.

After all, he played his part in one of the fights of the year and still remains a massive box office attraction.

His number one target would be a third fight against Leo Santa Cruz who has fought just twice since their January 2017 rematch in Las Vegas (Frampton had won their first meeting the previous July) and only once last year.

“Big fights interest me,” said Frampton.

“I would need to get offered a big fight before I make any decision on whether I am going to fight again.

“What I don’t want to do is have to fight a Horacio Garcia and then a Nonito Donaire and then Luke Jackson to get a shot again. If I get one fight and then the promise of a big fight after it or the promise of a big fight (straight away) that’s what I would like but I don’t want to be having a couple of eliminators to get a shot, it needs to be a meaningful fight.”

His words are a change of tune from what he said in the ring in Manchester that night when, with emotions raw and close to tears, he admitted that retirement was on his mind.

“Straight after the Warrington fight my thoughts were: ‘That’s it, I’m done’,” he said.

“But then, when I started to think about things and saw where it all went wrong – and this is all without watching the fight back because I’m not ready to watch it back yet – I just thought it was a bad night. It was a bad night and I wouldn’t like to go out on a fight like that because I still believe there’s plenty left.

“At the same time I know I could fight again and get beat and then I’d be chasing a win and that’s the last thing I want to be doing. But I don’t believe I’m in that position where, to use a prime example, someone like Roy Jones was.

“He went on and got beat by guys you’d never even heard of because he couldn’t get out. I believe that I’ve still got plenty left at the top level.”

Frampton went to Dubai on a family holiday after Christmas and was joined there by Jamie Moore and his family. After two rounds against Warrington, Moore had read Frampton the riot act in the corner for standing and trading instead of boxing and moving and they were able to talk the fight through in the UAE sunshine.

“Jamie was saying that I did good things in the fight – especially in the middle rounds – but I just kept getting dragged into a fight,” he said.

“In the first two rounds I stood with him but, in hindsight, what I should have done was hold on to him for five or 10 seconds to try and recover and then get back to my boxing.

“Those first two rounds were hard, they take a lot out of you especially if you’re on the receiving end of most of it, which I was.

“After two rounds you’re probably in a position where you should be after about six rounds in a fight. The gameplan was to box and move but, as the old saying goes: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get a dig in the head’ and that’s what it was like for me.

“I got buzzed and I stood and had a fight and the plan went out the window.”

To come back from here would be an extraordinary achievement for Frampton who turns 32 next month. Warrington doesn’t want a rematch but promoter Frank Warren said last year that bringing Santa Cruz to Windsor Park this summer was a realistic possibility.

The proviso was that Frampton would beat Warrington though, so is that still a runner? It would make a hell of a farewell performance.

Will we meet again? Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton trade blows during their IBF featherweight title fight in Manchester in December

JOSH Warrington has no interest in a rematch with Carl Frampton and the IBF featherweight champion says that, if they did fight again, he’d knock ‘the Jackal’ out.

Responding to Frampton’s admission that “he like to do it again maybe” Warrington said his focus has moved on to a fight against one of the other featherweight world champions, although he may first have to defend his title against mandatory challenger Kid Galahad (Barry Awad).

“I enjoyed the scrap,” said Warrington, who won by unanimous decision at the Manchester Arena on Manchester 22.

“The fans enjoyed it and I’m sure they’d enjoy a second one.

“But from my point of view it’s a job done, it’s like when Carl boxed Scott Quigg and beat him, he felt like it was time to progress and move forward and I think he said there was no point in going back over old ground.

“For me, I want to go on and try and win another belt and unify the division. I’ve got other options on the table including a mandatory challenge against Kid Galahad and I’ve got opportunities to fight Oscar Valdez (WBO) or Leo Santa Cruz (WBA).

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we could all do things differently looking back – fights can go in different ways but I thought I won that fight convincingly enough to say that I want to move forward now.”

Frampton decided to return fire when Warrington traded with him and some pundits feel that cost the Belfast man a chance of winning. Warrington says he would have won regardless of what the Belfast man produced.

“I’d be confident I’d beat him again no matter how he fought,” he said.

“I hadn’t even planned to have that kind of fight. It changed at the very last minute but we had other gameplans to go by. Last year was a long year and towards the end of the training camp getting near the fight I could feel myself slowing down a little bit but I still had enough energy to win the fight.

“If we were to do it again I would be confident of winning again and maybe even stopping the fight a bit earlier.”

When asked what he felt Frampton’s options were, Warrington repeated what he said before he met ‘the Jackal’ in the ring. For him there are two options: retirement or a move up to super-featherweight.

“Before the fight I was very confident of beating Carl and I said I thought it would be his last fight because of what got said in the build-up,” he said.

“I said if he didn’t retire then I could see him moving up to have a big showdown with James Tennyson, I think he said himself he would be looking to move up to be a three-weight world champion, so they are the options he has really.”

While Frampton weighs up his options, Warrington may be forced into a mandatory defence of his belt against Sheffield’s Kid Galahad before he pursues his trans-Atlantic dreams.

“I’ve got a meeting with Frank (Warren) this week and we’ll see where we go from there,” he said.

“In an ideal world, if I could have it my own way, then I’d go straight to a big fight with Santa Cruz or Valdez but I might have to do the mandatory first. We’ll see what happens.”

BOXING returns to the Ulster Hall after a seven-year absence on February 9 when Commonwealth Super-Featherweight champion and world title challenger James Tennyson steps up to lightweight to take on undefeated Garry Neale (10-0) from Portsmouth.

On the undercard, Paul Hyland Jnr takes on teak tough Czech Republic Super-Lightweight champion Miroslav Serban (10-1) and Coalisland’s undefeated super-featherweight prospect Feargal McCrory is hoping to add the vacant Boxing Union of Ireland Irish Lightweight title to his trophy cabinet in what will be his 10th contest. He squares up against Dublin’s relentless Karl Kelly.

Female professional boxing returns to the Ulster Hall for the first time in 20 years when Cathy McAleer looks to make a name for herself against Sonia Klos of Poland and cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy – now trained at the Belfast Kronk gym by Tony Dunlop - knows there are British title opportunities lying ahead as he looks to keep active over eight three minute rounds against an opponent yet to be named.

The same can be said for the east Belfast Super-flyweight Luke Wilton who has his second comeback fight following his battling points defeat at the hands of WBC champion Charlie Edwards back in 2016.

Mathew Fitzsimons also features in a local Belfast derby when he looks to get back to winning ways against east Belfast’s game Alec Bazza.

“I’m delighted to be bringing professional boxing back to the Ulster Hall,” said promoter Mark Dunlop.

“It has been a long time since we were last here. It will be an exciting new experience for many fans and it will jog a few memories of the fans who have been privileged to witness some great nights at the venue.”

For the last remaining tickets, contact the boxers, Ulster Hall Box Office or www.ulsterhall.co.uk

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