Beaten by the better man.
Former two-weight world titleholder Carl Frampton offers little in the way of excuses for his 12-round unanimous decision defeat to Josh Warrington in December. The Belfast man has always been a realist. But it was a painful setback, emotionally and mentally, and despite his love for the game, it was almost the end of a glittering career.
“In my head, for about two weeks, even though I hadn’t made an official announcement, I was a retired fighter,” admitted Frampton in a recent interview with The Ring.
“If I’d been getting beaten up in sparring, had that fight and lost, then I would probably have called it a day. But I had a good camp, sparring went pretty well and I went in expecting to win. It just didn’t work out. I just feel like, with the career I’ve had, it wouldn’t be right to go out like that. I’m a better fighter than that and I want to prove it.”
Frampton, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring at 126 pounds, was already looking to get back on the horse when a lucrative co-promotional deal between Frank Warren and Top Rank/ ESPN made assurance doubly sure. The 32-year-old, who is managed by MTK Global, has commenced training and the final details for his next bout should be announced imminently.
“I’ve been told the East Coast,” said Frampton, who has fought in the U.S. in three of his last eight fights. “People keep asking me where it’s gonna be because they like to get things booked early. All I’ve been told is that it’s most likely the 10th of August, but it could be the 24th as well. I could be in Boston, New York, Philly, I honestly don’t know where it’s gonna be.
“No opponents have been mentioned at this point, but a potential fight with (WBO featherweight titleholder) Oscar Valdez could be after this. It’s one fight at a time right now and I don’t like the term ‘marking time fights’. Fighters come in, especially against guys like me, and think to themselves, ‘Frampton’s over the hill, I’m gonna have a real fuckin’ go here, and I might get another big fight and a payday off of this.’”
Even though Frampton hasn’t gone anywhere, this does have the feel of a comeback attempt. The Ring Fighter of the Year for 2016 was beaten decisively by Warrington and there are no easy outs among the rest of the 126-pound elite. At junior featherweight Frampton was a mobile boxer-puncher with brilliant judgment of distance. However, since the step up in weight three years ago, “The Jackal” has become more flat-footed and, as a result, more open.
“I completely agree and I’ve spoken to (trainer) Jamie (Moore) about it as well,” said Frampton, who unified IBF and WBA titles at 122 pounds.
“I’ve been out of the ring for a long time now, it’s the longest break I’ve had. I want to start sparring and feeling like a fighter again. I want to be sparring lighter guys, get up on my toes again, move my head a bit more, get back to doing what I’ve done before. In the Warrington fight, the plan was to get up on my toes and move, but I got nailed early, then I got a bash on the knee and there was some pretty severe bruising. That was sore and I couldn’t do what I wanted to, but those first two rounds took a helluva lot out of me too.”
If everything falls into place, Frampton will win his next outing and challenge Valdez later in 2019. The 28-year-old Mexican is unbeaten in 25 fights with 20 knockouts and he’s huge for the weight. However, a professional for almost a decade with wins over Kiko Martinez (twice), Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz and Nonito Donaire, Frampton is not one to be awed by reputations. If anything, he’s relishing the challenge.
“(Valdez) is a quality fighter, very dangerous, but myself and Jamie have been talking about it for a while now and we fancy that fight,” revealed Frampton.
“He loads up on everything. He’s definitely a hard puncher, but he doesn’t really punch in combinations; everything’s like single shots. I just think I’m cute enough and clever enough to see that coming and read it. I think our styles would gel very well. It’s a very difficult fight but it’s one that I think I can win.”
It certainly appears that Frampton’s fires are rekindled.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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