Boxing

From Santa Cruz in Brooklyn to Donaire in Belfast... Carl Frampton's five best wins (so far)

Leo Santa Cruz staggers across the ring at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
Andy Watters

CARL Frampton says taking on Jamel Herring at Madison Square Garden later this year would be “insane” and he is hoping his legions of fans get the chance to cheer him on at New York's boxing Mecca.

Frampton began the fourth week of his comeback training camp with Jamie Moore in Manchester yesterday and is looking ahead to a comeback fight – looking likely for early August – before he begins to focus again on New Yorker Herring.

Two-weight world champion and 33-year-old 29-2 veteran Frampton will be expected to win comfortably at the BT Studios in August but, as ever, he is taking nothing for granted.

“I hate saying ‘tune-up' because I don't want to take my eyes off anyone, or overlook anyone but that's kind of what we're talking about next,” Frampton explained.

“You're looking to the same kind of opposition that Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring have had so it's going to be a similar sort of level which is not elite. It will be a fight that will keep me busy and active and it will keep my weight down as well so I'm ballooning up too much and then I'll hopefully get the big fight with Herring either before the end of this year or early next year.

“I'd imagine now that it will be in the States. The date that we had for the Herring fight with the 13th of June – it wasn't officially announced – but that's when we were planning on having the fight but what's gone on with Coronavirus has affected that.

“I would have preferred Windsor Park but you can't do Windsor Park in December or January or February because it's too cold. So most likely it will be in America which isn't a bad second option I suppose – imagine doing it in Madison Square Garden? It would be insane! Hopefully in front of a crowd as well.”

Frampton has never graced New York's boxing Mecca. His only appearance in the ‘Big Apple' was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2016's thrilling rumble with Leo Santa Cruz.

However, fighting behind closed doors would be alien to a man who has enjoyed massive, passionate support throughout his career and he has his fingers crossed that the Covid-19 recovery will have progressed sufficiently by then to let fans fill the famous Manhattan arena.

“Hopefully things are changing,” he said.

“Look at what's going on in New Zealand, I know they tackled the pandemic a lot better than most countries but they've got full rugby stadiums now for games so hopefully we're not too far away from that sort of stuff ourselves.”

Dethroning Herring will take a lot of careful planning between Frampton and his coach Jamie Moore.

According to Boxrec.com, Herring has a reach of 178cm, that's 21cm longer than Frampton's (who says his stats are inaccurate) and means ‘the Jackal' will need to make him miss and then get his timing right with sharp counters to break him down.

“He's got the longer reach but Boxrec have my reach about four inches shorter than what it is for some reason,” said Frampton.

“People think I have tiny arms but my reach is a wee bit longer than they think. Having said that Jamel Herring does have a much bigger reach than me but it will be about distance-control and timing to negate that.”

Frampton and Herring would have fought on June 13 had it not been for the Covid-19 lockdown. Despite the cancellation of that fight he continued training and was pleasantly surprised by his fitness level when he returned to Moore's gym.

“I haven't sparred or anything yet but it has been pretty normal apart from that,” he said.

“We've been trying to keep our distance, taking all the precautions and I've been doing loads of circuits. You could probably compare it to a pre-season programme for a footballer with loads of running to get a base level of fitness.

“I kept training the whole time at home anyway. There were always rumours about fights so I just kept training. It was good to be at home with the kids and Christine, it's the longest I've spent at home probably since I became a pro. It was nice to do that but I trained Monday to Friday once a day and maintained a level of fitness and I tried not to get too fat – it didn't really work – but I tried it anyway.

“I did runs at Cave Hill and worked out in my garage. I would have been fatter if I didn't do any training and, when I got back to Manchester, my level of fitness was better than I thought.”

EVERYONE will have their own favourite Frampton fight and the Jackal hopes to sign off with one or two more classics in the final chapter of his career. These are my five favourite Frampton wins to date.

Frampton v Santa Cruz I (WBA featherweight title, Barclays Centre New York, July 30, 2016)

FRAMPTON'S stand-out performance was an unforgettable ‘rock-em, sock-em' barn-burner. He went into the fight, against three-weight world champion Santa Cruz as underdog, but ripped the WBA belt out of the Mexican's grip by meeting him in the centre of the Brooklyn ring and out-smarting and out-fighting him over 12 absorbing rounds. He took the win on majority decision (one judge had it a draw) to become Ireland's second two-weight world champion (Steve Collins was the first) and the first from the north.

Frampton says: “It was a brilliant fight. I was a big underdog in the fight because it was my first fight moving up to the featherweight division and I wasn't expected to win. I brought a decent amount of travelling support and obviously the Irish Americans came out to support me.

“I knew I had to try and match him for workrate but land the better shots and I did that, I landed the cleaner shots and I won the fight. I was delighted with my performance and becoming a two-weight world champion. It was an amazing night.”

Frampton v Martinez II (IBF super-bantamweight title, Titanic Slipway Belfast, September 6, 2014)

THE wind whistled through the purpose-built arena from The Irish Sea and Frampton blew Martinez away in a 12 round pin-point counter-punching masterclass to become world champion.

This was a repeat of their meeting the previous year and Spaniard Kiko had to take four shots to land one of his own. Frampton (who won the first fight by stoppage) controlled the distance and his timing was superb. He had Martinez down in the fifth and was the clear winner on points at the finish.

“There was more pressure on me in that fight than there's ever been,” he says.

“I'd already beaten him in a European title fight and people just see the result – KO round nine – they don't remember how hard a fight it was up until that fight and they just expected me to beat him.

“The setting was amazing down at the Slipway, you could actually see Tigers Bay off in the distance! It was an ideal place for me to have a fight. Everybody expected me to win but I knew it was going to be tough. I think I put in a brilliant performance that night as well and beat a very good Kiko Martinez too. I was over the moon with that one and it was my first world title as well – it was a dream come true.”

Frampton v Quigg (WBC & IBF super-bantamweight world titles, MEN Arena, Manchester, February 27, 2016)

AN intimidated Scott Quigg had done his fair share of talking in the build-up but he froze on the night and couldn't get out of his shell until it was too late. By then Frampton had broken the Bury fighter's jaw with a pulverising uppercut and he was way ahead on points and in complete control of the fight.

With the cavernous MEN Arena packed with joyous travelling fans, Frampton took the win on split decision (how one judge went for Quigg remains a mystery) to unify the bantamweight titles.

“It was one of my biggest wins although it wasn't the best fight in the world to watch,” says Frampton.

“I was winning rounds by doing very little so I just continued to do that. People say: ‘If Quigg had started earlier he would have won the fight' and he might have won the 10th and 11th but I won the 12th round – it was probably my best round of the fight. It's a lot of shit that if Quigg had started earlier he'd have won – he might have got knocked out if he started coming out earlier.

“In fairness, he's obviously a very tough man to carry on with a broken jaw. I broke his jaw in the sixth round, he always tells people it was the fourth. It's one thing to fight for six rounds with a broken jaw but he tries to pretend it was eight. It wasn't.

“It was a big win, I unified the division and the atmosphere was amazing that night. It was unreal. He is from down the road in Bury but I had 75 per cent of the crowd which is a credit to all the travelling support.”

Frampton v Gonzalez jnr (IBF Super-Bantamweight title, Don Haskins Center, El Paso, July 18, 2015)

IT'S not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up that counts and Frampton had to get off the Texas canvas twice - in the first round - to beat game Mexican Gonzalez. Fans watched the fight live on ITV and had their hearts in their mouths as Gonzalez caught Frampton cold before the Jackal (who'd never been dropped and had gone into the fight with five stoppage wins in his previous six) regained his composure and boxed his way to a convincing points win.

Frampton says: “My first fight as a pro in America, live on ITV, live on CBS in the States and a matinee show which made it a huge platform for me – terrestrial TV in the UK and the USA.

“I was looking at this kid (Gonzalez) walking about the hotel expecting to blow him away and I got dropped twice in the first round! I started to worry a bit but I suppose I kept my cool and pretty much won every round after that and got back to boxing.

“I was struggling with the weight then. Ideally I probably would have moved up after that fight but the Quigg fight was still being talked about. Quigg only wanted to fight me because I got dropped in that fight – he never wanted to fight me for the British title when he had it or ever until he saw me getting dropped. It was the same for Leo Santa Cruz. People forget that after I beat Hugo Cazares I was his mandatory for the WBC super-bantamweight title and he didn't want to fight.

“Both of those fights – Quigg and Santa Cruz – happened because I was dropped in El Paso. It was a big night for me, huge exposure and getting dropped was a blessing in disguise. Sadly that poor kid Alejandro Gonzalez is no longer with us.”

Frampton v Donaire (Interim WBO featherweight title, SSE Arena Belfast, April 21, 2018)

FORMER bantam, super-bantam and featherweight king Donaire arrived in Belfast determined to prove that he was still a force at elite level and he did so, pushing Frampton – back in the groove with Jamie Moore after an acrimonious split from Barry and Shane McGuigan and the Cyclone Promotions team – all the way at the SSE Arena.

Frampton looked sharp and nailed the ‘Filipino Flash' with powerful back hands and left hooks and, although he was caught clean late on, he took a unanimous decision on the scorecards.

“That win probably ages better after seeing what he's gone on to do in the Super Series (beating luckless Ryan Burnett in the final) and giving (Naoya) Inoue the fight that he did,” says Frampton.

“I said he'd give Inoue (the Japanese ‘Monster' won on points) a fight and people were laughing at me for giving Donaire a chance. I thought it would turn out to be a very close fight which it turned out to be.

“Beating Donaire was a great win for me. I needed to be switched on, it was one of those fights when you're fighting a living legend who's got serious power so I had to switched on from start to finish and I was even though I got nailed in the 11th round. He hurt me but I was just too big for him. I was a fully-fledged featherweight and Donaire was coming up from super-bantamweight.

“It was a brilliant win and he has become a great friend of mine since.”

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