Carl Frampton (left) jabs Raul Hirales en route to outpointing the then-unbeaten Mexican prospect at Nottingham Capital FM Arena on May 26, 2012 in Nottingham, England. Frampton has since scored stoppages of former 122-pound beltholder Steve Molitor and newly crowned IBF titleholder Kiko Martinez.
After an impressive 2012 campaign that included a sixth-round stoppage over former titleholder Steve Molitor, it appeared as though big things were right around the corner for RING #3 rated junior featherweight Carl Frampton.
Five months later, Frampton faced his stiffest test in capturing the European title from Kiko Martinez, ultimately pasting him to the canvas with a perfect right hand after a well-timed step back in the ninth round.
Yet it was Martinez who fought for a world title in August in Atlantic City, not Frampton. The tough Spaniard proceeded to break down the incumbent Jhonatan Romero on the way to a knockout win, becoming one of the sport’s unlikeliest of champions.
In the meantime, Frampton has switched promoters, dumping Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport in favor of manager Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions. He suffered a perforated eardrum while preparing for a July tune-up against Everth Briceno.
On Saturday, Frampton (16-0, 11 knockouts) will finally climb back into the ring after than more than eight months off, meeting once-beaten Frenchman Jeremy Parodi (35-1-1, 9 KOs) at the Odyssey Arena in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Though Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn seemed to be maneuvering Frampton for a world title shot, the 26-year-old pressure fighter didn’t feel like he was getting enough attention.
“I appreciate Matchroom Sport for giving me a platform but it was my team that was really doing the promoting,” Frampton told RingTV.com on the phone last month.
“It’s about being the priority. Outside of Carl Froch, I’m the biggest ticket seller they had. After the Martinez fight, they tried putting me on Luke Campbell’s undercard. Campbell was making his professional debut and I thought that was a bit of an insult.”
In the UK, there is no Muhammad Ali Act, meaning former champion McGuigan can take on dual roles as Frampton’s manager and promoter.
“When I was with Matchroom, Barry was the one rounding up the press, promoting the shows. Barry basically promoted the shows. From the outside looking in, it looked like Matchroom was doing it but it was Barry.”
Though Frampton’s fights under Matchroom were televised on Sky Sports, he’ll now be featured on BoxNation, of which promoter Frank Warren is a shareholder. Frampton informed RingTV.com that they’ve made a deal with terrestrial television to show highlights of his upcoming bout, meaning even more exposure than he would have received on Sky.
The biggest fight that can be made for Frampton is with fellow countryman Scott Quigg, who has an interim trinket at the weight right now. Quigg was lucky to escape Yoandris Salinas with a draw a few weekends ago. When Frampton was with Matchroom, Ricky Hatton’s company promoted Quigg. Now Quigg has jumped over to Matchroom.
“I’m still interested in the Quigg fight,” said Frampton. “He was offered a lot of money when I was with Eddie and he’s been offered even more money after we jumped ship.”
Frampton thinks there could be some hesitation on Hearn’s part to make the fight.
“Eddie knows what the outcome would be between me and Scott,” said Frampton confidently. “There’s footage out there of him saying I would knock Scott out, and I haven’t seen anything since where he suggests otherwise.”
When former adversary Martinez got the call to fight for a title, Frampton didn’t expect him to win, but admitted he wasn’t surprised by it.
“I was expecting Romero to win, but wasn’t surprised,” said Frampton “I was surprised how one-sided it was. I think he’s improved a lot since being involved with Sergio Martinez and Pablo Sarmiento.”
Initially, Frampton thought there was no way Martinez would want another go with him after what happened in February. Now, it seems as though the fight is a realistic possibility.
“I thought he would’ve tried putting it off, but he’s saying in press releases he wants to avenge the loss,” said Frampton. “I hope he’s a man of his word. First, I’ve got to get through Parodi and he’s gotta get through [Jeffrey] Mathebula, who is very tough.
Getting a belt would make a fight with Quigg an even bigger spectacle than it would be now. For Frampton, his concern is whether or not his rival can hold onto his title and unbeaten record in the meantime.
“He’s susceptible to a big punch and his chin isn’t the best,” said Frampton. “I have my fingers crossed he doesn’t get knocked out before it happens.”
The British media has pitted the two against each other, though Frampton says there is respect on his end.
“I’ve spoken to him a few times in person,” said Frampton. “Things said in the press are often different than how one really acts. He’s a nice guy; he’s someone I respect because he’s a really dedicated boxer. I’m just annoyed about the fight not having happened yet.”
Frampton has proven to be one of the biggest draws in the UK since climbing the ranks the past few years. His European title winning effort against Martinez did very well at the Odyssey Arena, and the Parodi fight will mark the fourth time he’s appeared there.
Frampton believes that if he gets past next month’s challenge, there’s a good likelihood he could bring a title fight to Belfast.
“We’re willing to put up a massive amount of money on the table to bring a champ to Belfast,” said Frampton. “The European title fight, the support I received was unbelievable. I can’t imagine what it would be like for a world title.”
Those that follow the sport globally may recall Dublin based boxer Bernard Dunne taking on Ricardo Cordoba for a belt in a Fight of the Year candidate in 2009. The atmosphere at the O2 in Dublin rivaled that of any major fight. Frampton believes the Irish fans would support him similarly.
“I remember watching that fight live, it was unreal,” said Frampton. “It’s similar to what Belfast fans can do. Irish fans are some of the smartest in the sport and will support. They know a good fighter when they see one.”
Though Belfast is where he’d like to win a title, Frampton would love to take his show on the road one day and fight in America. Frampton believes he can achieve similar if not better results than what John Duddy and Matthew Macklin have been able to gather.
“The U.S. has the biggest audience in the world,” said Frampton. “A lot of Irish Americans would support me. I want to make myself a household name in the UK and then do the same in America. I love Belfast, but Madison Square Garden or Las Vegas or Atlantic City would be a dream come true.”
“I’ve got an exciting style, am a smart boxer, and am intelligent in the ring. I’ve got power in both hands.”
Aside from all of those things and more, what Frampton has that could help his ascent is a charisma and confidence that you don’t see in too many of today’s fighters. It’s worth betting on that he’ll get there sooner than later.
Photos / Scott Heavey-Getty Images