To most, it was clear junior featherweight contender Carl Frampton had made a significant statement on Saturday night in his home city Belfast, Northern Ireland, while dismantling Spain’s European titleholder Kiko Martinez.
The way Frampton survived the first serious onslaught of his short, perfect career, and thrived in the middle rounds before delivering a single knockout shot in the ninth to finish Martinez, was mighty impressive. Martinez had never been stopped previously.
It showed that the 25-year-old local favorite has that ability to rise to the challenge and learn on the job in the thick and suffocating heat of battle.
Yet, it appears Frampton (16-0, 11 knockouts) already knew he possessed that fine attribute. For, after adding the European strap to his Commonwealth and IBF intercontinental belts, he was rather less sure as to what he had discovered about himself in overcoming gutsy, relentless Martinez (27-4, 19 KOs), aside that he has a chin that can withstand hefty, accurate punches.
We might all have been suitably surprised and enlightened, but THE RING’s No. 5 at 122 pounds – who is managed by former featherweight titleholder Barry McGuigan – reckoned he did little more than he had promised he would during a feisty pre-match war of words.
“He was as tough as nails, and harder to hit than I thought with that head movement. But I like to think I’m smart enough not to get drawn into fighting someone else’s fight,” Frampton said to host broadcaster Sky Sports. “I told Martinez I’d outbox him at the start and then I’d outfight him at the end and that’s exactly what I did.
“I’ve been hit in there, too. He’s a big, big puncher. That shows to people who had doubts about my chin that I can go in with one of the hardest hitters in the super bantamweight division and take it all day.
“I don’t know what I learnt, to be honest – other than I have a good chin and, with the help of this crowd in Belfast, I can go right to the top. I want to be world champion and we’re getting close.”
Talk then turned to a widely-anticipated domestic dust-up with unbeaten English contender Scott Quigg. The British titleholder was a particularly interested spectator at the packed-out, pumped-up Odyssey Arena.
However, Frampton’s call-out message to Quigg was measured and unveiled with a calm maturity akin to that produced inside the ring at the weekend.
“I had a word with Scott yesterday, and all this stuff in the press… Scott’s a nice guy. I respect him a lot and he’s a great fighter,” he said. “Hopefully, we can fight one day. It’s what the British public want and it would be an amazing fight. It’s bigger than (Tyson) Fury-(David) Price, so let’s do it. I want it. Scott wants it.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn echoed that view but was rather more contentious when comparing the rivals. He could not resist warning Quigg that he is being left behind in the pair’s race up the elite ladder. He also suggested an IBF and/or WBC title shot is around the corner for his own charge.
“The key is to keep active. With a city like this behind you, the sky’s the limit,” said the ecstatic Matchroom supremo. “We’re already looking at May 11, possibly back here. I’d say (for) the IBF title, we have a shot at that, or even the WBC title. Carl is the superstar in the super bantamweight division. Everyone is talking about him.
“Scott Quigg is a great fighter and a great bloke but he has to realise that he is not the star of this division. Carl fights every two months, sells out arenas, is shown on Sky and seen all around the world putting in devastating performances.
“Scott Quigg needs Carl Frampton, that’s the difference.”
Quigg, THE RING’s No. 7-rated junior featherweight, is not one to be drawn into public slanging matches with opposing promoters. Indeed, there are few more unassuming talents in British boxing than the 24-year-old from Bury, Lancashire. Hence, he ignored Hearn’s dig and instead chose to pay tribute to Frampton’s latest triumph.
“It was a good performance, very impressive,” said Quigg (25-0-1, 18 KOs). “He kept his cool in those first few rounds when Martinez was dangerous, then he started upping the pressure, kept chipping away and then caught him late on. That’s exactly how I thought the fight would go.
“Carl was tagged quite a lot in there and there’s still things for him to work on. But I’ve still got things to work on. Like I say, he got through those sticky parches and produced an impressive stoppage.
“The fight between us is definitely going to happen. If it’s for a world title, it will be even bigger. But either way, I want it, he wants it and the public wants it. That’s why it’s definitely going to happen.”