Boxing fans everywhere were licking their lips in anticipation of a fantastic fight in store when the announcement came that Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton would be meeting the American/Filiipino boxer Nonito Donaire in the Belfast SSE Arena on April 21, 2018. Many see it as the next logical step on Frampton’s route to making a challenge on the world featherweight championship some time later this year and the Donaire fight could prove to be the perfect preparation.
2018 is 30-year-old Frampton’s 10th year as a professional and for most of this time he was managed by another true giant of Northern Irish boxing, Barry McGuigan, and was a key figure in his Cyclone Promotions stable. However relations turned sour in summer last year when Frampton allegedly became distinctly underwhelmed by the bouts that were being lined up for him as well as the quality of the TV rights deals that Cyclone were arranging for him. At the time it was thought that he was going to be managing himself and dealing directly with TV companies, just as Anthony Joshua does under his umbrella company called AJ Boxing, but he has subsequently signed on the dotted line with Frank Warren.
Even Frampton’s biggest fans would have to admit that 2017 was a year when he found himself on the ropes on at least two occasions. The first came in January when the boxer who he had defeated in 2016 to claim the WBA (Super) Featherweight, Leo Santa Cruz, beat him by a majority decision.
His next fight was to be against Andres Gutierrez on July 29th but this was to be mired in controversy. At the final weigh-in on the 28th Frampton was a pound over the 126-pound featherweight limit, which meant the fight could not count as an eliminator, although it was still due to go ahead. But later the same day Gutierrez slipped in the shower cutting his chin and losing several teeth so the fight had to be postponed. However, in August the fight was called off completely and shortly afterwards Frampton announced his split from McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions.
His only fight since was in November 2017 when he won against Horacio Garcia by a unanimous, but close, decision. Describing himself as “ring rusty” it was probably a relief to Frampton that it was only a 10 round bout during which he was knocked down once by Garcia but still managed to prevail.
As to the prospects in April, many believe that this could be a surprisingly tough challenge for Frampton although the odds would say otherwise with the Irishman priced at 13/2 on with Donaire at 4/1 against.
At 35, and with a 17-year professional career behind him, Donaire is certainly not short of experience He’s also known to be a hard hitter who can knock opponents out with ease.
So Frampton would do well to train as hard as he can over the next couple of months if he wants another shot at making McGuigan’s prediction come true that he could be “the best Irish fighter who ever lived”.