GAA Football

Queensbury Promotions set to confirm date for Carl Frampton world title rumble

Amir Khan (and Samuel Vargas in action during their Welterweight contest in Birmingham last weekend
Andy Watters

QUEENSBURY Promotions have promised that news on Carl Frampton's proposed IBF featherweight world title showdown with Josh Warrington will be “coming soon” but they have yet to confirm rumours of a December 22 date at the MEN Arena in Manchester.

The spokesman for the Frank Warren-led organisation told The Irish News: “We will have news coming out soon on Frampton-Warrington” and confirmation of the venue and date is certain to lead to a scramble of ticket and hotel-booking activity on this side of the Irish Sea.

Leeds native Warrington was at ringside at Windsor Park to watch Frampton dismantle Luke Jackson. He had gone in as underdog against reigning champion Lee Selby but ripped the IBF belt out of the Welshman's hands with a superb display at Elland Road.

Speaking after beating game but limited Jackson, Frampton acknowledged he had work to do before facing the 27-0 Yorkshire scrapper.

“Warrington is going to be a different story,” said Frampton.

“He's right on the crest of a wave at the minute, he had the biggest win of his career against Selby and it's a good fight.

“It's a big fight, not an easy fight. I think it will be the best atmosphere in world boxing.”

MARCO McCullough wants to land one more title shot before he hangs up his gloves.

The 28-year-old Shankill Road super-featherweight, who has won Irish and WBO European and Inter-Continental belts but lost British and Commonwealth title challenges, has given himself one more year in the sport before he calls it a day.

His career up to now has included several near-misses with the biggest of the lot coming back in 2015 when McCullough – then coached by Belfast's John Breen – turned down the opportunity to fight Leo Santa Cruz on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquaio in Las Vegas. Back then McCullough was on an 11-fight winning streak but the offer came too late for him to get into the shape he needed to be in to take on then reigning WBC super-bantamweight champion Santa Cruz who went on to a fight Carl Frampton twice at featherweight.

Looking back now, McCullough regrets not taking the fight.

“I should have maybe took that,” he said.

“You don't know these things at the time. You think you're going to go a lot further that what I have done. But I don't regret anything.”

McCullough is currently waiting for news on a new opponent after Declan Geraghty pulled out of their scheduled rumble at the Titanic Exhibition Centre on October 5.

After a solid win on the undercard of Frampton v Luke Jackson, McCullough had hoped to take another step towards a return to title contention by beating slick-boxing Dubliner Geraghty

“He pulled out but they were hoping – because I had five weeks – that they could come up with something, they are waiting on people getting back,” he explained.

“I was disappointed because it was a good Belfast-Dublin rivalry and I was psyched up for it. Training was going well. I'm gutted about it, but what can you do?

“It would have been a good fight and a good win but I'm still hoping to get someone decent.”

McCullough travelled to London last year to take on seasoned English featherweight Ryan Walsh who retained his British title with a stoppage win but since then McCullough has regained momentum with three wins on-the-trot.

“I've had three six-rounders and I'm hoping to push on and do a 10-rounder on this show and then hopefully go for a title after it,” he said.

“I took a lot away from the Walsh fight and Charlie Lamont (his coach) didn't want me to take any title fights for at least two years because I was changing the way I boxed but it was hard to turn down a British title shot even though it was a wee bit early.

“I'd always wanted to fight for a British title so I jumped in and had a go and I can't complain.

“I've been working with Charlie for two years now and I can see the difference, I'm starting to box a lot better now and I'm excited to see what's going to happen over the next couple of months.”

The birth of his daughter Ava 10 months ago has changed McCullough's outlook on life. Long training camps are more difficult nowadays and that is why he has decided to throw everything into the next 12 months.

“If I get a crack at another title then, win, lose or draw, I'll be happy to walk away to be honest,” he said.

“I'll give myself another year and then I'll walk away. My goals have all changed now, it's all about her and I've missed out on a lot already in the first 10 months and I regret that too. You miss a lot and then you can't do anything and you're on a diet…

“I'll give myself another year and I'll decide what to do then.”

SEAN McComb and Steven Donnelly both moved to 2-0 on the undercard of Amir Khan versus Samuel Vargas in Birmingham last Saturday night.

McComb opened the show with a stoppage win over Lesther Cantillano and Ballymena super-welter Donnelly followed his fellow Irishman with a points win over Miguel Aguilar. Both will be back in action at the Titanic Exhibition Centre on October 5.

Meanwhile, in the main event Khan got off the canvas to convincingly (but not comfortably) out-point game Vargas who was down twice himself.

Afterwards Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn warned that it was “now or never” for long-term rivals Khan and Kell Brook to finally settle their differences in a domestic super-fight. However, Khan seems to favour a more lucrative clash with faded legend Manny Pacquiao.

“It's down to them," said Hearn.

“It has to happen next or it will never happen, so it's up to these guys.

“There is only so much we can do; we will listen to the public, we know Amir wants Pacquiao and he will fight Brook.

“But it's now or never for the Kell Brook fight.

“Amir will have two weeks off then we will sit round the table. Kell wants the fight and I know Amir will fight him."

Khan, however, seems to prefer a more internationally-appealing scrap with Pacquiao, who he trained with under Freddie Roach.

“Both fights are massive but Manny is someone I'd love to fight first. I've always wanted that fight," said the 31-year-old.

“Manny and I trained together and he's a southpaw. I've got a 100 per cent record against southpaws and that would be a more technical, tactical fight.

“Let's see what happens. At the end of the day we're businessmen, and we do what makes financial sense.”

Khan had to climb off the canvas before comfortably beating the teak-tough, but one-dimensional, Vargas in Birmingham.

The Bolton welterweight, in his second fight since returning to the ring after a two-year absence, was knocked to the floor in the final moments of the second round.

Colombian-born Vargas had already been put down himself when he stunned Khan and the capacity crowd.

But, with Brook watching at ringside, Khan recovered and floored Vargas again before eventually running out the unanimous points winner.

The second round was only 20 seconds old when Vargas hit the canvas, sent on his way by a fearsome left jab.

He was up quickly but was immediately sent staggering backwards again amid more lightning Khan combinations. But the elephant in the room, Khan's fragile chin, let him down right at the end of round two as a long-range right hook left him on his backside.

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