Boxing

Katie Taylor beats Carl Frampton as Ireland's best says 'Celtic Warrior' Steve Collins

Carl Frampton fights Darren Traynor on Saturday night
Andy Watters

STEVE Collins says Katie Taylor will go down as the best fighter Ireland has ever produced whether Carl Frampton wins a third world title or not.

Collins (light-middleweight and middleweight) and Frampton (super-bantam and featherweight) are the only Irishmen to have won world titles in two weight classes while Taylor has triumphed at lightweight and light-welterweight.

Speaking yesterday, Frampton said – with justification - that beating WBO super-featherweight king Jamel Herring would put him on top of the tree.

“People could argue the point that I'm Ireland's greatest fighter right now,” said Belfast's ‘Jackal'.

“If I win a third title it will cement that place and I'll go down as the greatest fighter that Ireland has ever produced – ahead of Steve Collins, ahead of Barry McGuigan, ahead of Katie Taylor and a few others. That's what I want.”

But ‘Celtic Warrior' Collins disagrees.

“Not a hope,” the Dubliner told The Irish News.

“The truth is Katie is the best fighter to come out of Ireland bar none.”

DARREN Traynor looked like a man on his way to the gallows when he appeared at yesterday's press conference to discuss his duel with Carl Frampton on Saturday night.

Maybe it was the long journey he'd just made from Aberdeen but Traynor – who was knocked out by James Tennyson at the SSE Arena two years ago – didn't look convinced that he has what it will take to cause an upset at the BT Studios.

‘Trayn-wreck' (16-3) was brought in as a late replacement for Frampton after his scheduled opponent Vahram Vardanyan pulled out over visa issues.

“It's a big opportunity,” he said.

“It's a big fight for me, I know it's going to be a hard fight but it's a big thing for me to get me back up in the rankings and back on the big stage again.

“I never, ever thought I'd fight Frampton but it's come now and I'm here to give him a go. I have to be confident and believe that I can do it and beat him. That's it.”

Even at lightweight, Frampton's skill, pedigree and experience mark him out as the clear favourite but he can't afford to give Traynor a foothold in the fight that would allow him to grow in confidence. He knows that any slip-up could well mean the end of his career.

“I respect anyone who steps up to fight me,” he said.

“Darren is better than the original opponent (Vardanyan) we had. He has fought at a better level anyway and this is at a higher weight division so (what was supposed to be) my first fight at super-featherweight is now my first fight at lightweight.”

Because of concerns that there could be issues with Vardanyan travelling, MTK had notified Traynor that he might have to step in as a reserve so the Scot has been in training for the past four weeks.

“I know it's not going to be an easy fight,” said Frampton.

“He's coming here with nothing to lose and everything to gain and that brings its own pressures.

“I can't be complacent for a second and I won't be. I'm looking forward to putting on a good show.”

Frampton wants the Jamel Herring fight later this year but stressed that he will not take his “eye off the ball”.

“We had it (the Herring fight) sorted for June 13th but obviously with what's been going on globally it couldn't happen,” he said.

“Hopefully it can happen and that's not being disrespectful to Darren or taking my eye off the ball.

“Ideally I would have liked to be fighting, or have fought already for a world title but because of what's going on it wasn't possible so I have to fight Darren and I have to win.

“If I lose my career is over – where would I go from there at this stage?”

CARL Frampton predicts world titles in multiple weight divisions await Michael Conlan who will share the stage with him for the first time at the BT Studios on Saturday night.

Frampton fights Darren Traynor in the main event while Conlan takes on former Josh Warrington challenger Sofiane Takoucht as chief support. Conlan will fight at featherweight on Saturday night but will then drop to super-bantamweight and Frampton predicts that he will be a “nightmare” for opponents at 122lbs.

“Mick is a class act, he's one of the most skilled fighters that I've seen,” said Frampton.

“What he did as an amateur, his shot selection and his distance control… He's got it all now they're talking about him going down to 122lb. I always thought he was a big featherweight so I don't think it's going to be easy for him to get down to super-bantamweight but if he can do it comfortably, with his skillset and his pure size he's going to be a nightmare for anybody at 122lbs. It gives him the chance to become a multi-weight world champion.

“Mick wouldn't look out of place at lightweight, he's a big guy, so this gives him the chance to go up through the weight divisions and win world titles.”

Queensbury Promotions boss Frank Warren predicts a good test for Conlan on Saturday night.

“He's got a tough fight,” he said.

“The guy is very experienced, he's had 40 fights and won 35 of them so he's going to have to be at the top of his game.

“If he can get down and be strong at 122lbs he's going to be something else. He's a man on a mission and I think we're going to see a good fight between him and Takoucht.”

Meanwhile, Frampton says the “political landscape” in Belfast could scupper any chance of him and Conlan sharing a bill together in their home city.

“Potentially it could be good but it might be a bit of an issue in Belfast,” he said.

“Me and Mick are good mate but if you know the political landscape in Belfast it might be difficult. But why not?”

SEAN McComb says Siar Ozgul is the hardest opponent he's faced yet “by a country mile”.

McComb (10-0) takes on the London-based Turk in Wakefield tomorrow night and expects a thorough examination from his former sparring partner. Ozgul (15-4) has lost four of his last five but he has been in with some good fighters including Viktor Postal and Anthony Yigit, so McComb doesn't expect to have things all his own way.

“His style is just relentless,” he said.

“It's a really tough fight and I've enjoyed getting ready for it simply because we've been able to put a proper training camp in place. We've done proper tactics and a specific gameplan, we've worked on his weaknesses and my strengths and I know what I'm going to do.

“That has kept me fully focussed throughout the 10 weeks which is a first in my professional career.”

The flip side to that of course is that Ozgul will feel he can exploit weaknesses in McComb's armour.

“100 per cent,” said McComb.

“But the difference between him and me is he's one-dimensional. I'm not. I can fight, I can box, I can move, I can stand… I can do what I want.

“The only plans I have right now is to win on Wednesday night because if I don't win then it's to the back of the queue for me. I want to stay at the top of the queue and if I keep winning the doors will open and the opportunities will keep coming.

“My main focus is winning and I'm sure an opportunity will come off the back of that.”

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