Two world title fights take place on Saturday night on opposite sides of the Atlantic and the results could have a massive impact on one of the biggest nights in Irish boxing history.
Belfast’s Carl Frampton will fulfil his Windsor Park dream on August 18th and he will be ringside for Lee Selby’s IBF title defence versus Josh Warrington in Leeds – but his opponent for the stadium fight could be determined thousands of miles away.
While the winner of the fight between Frampton’s two promotional stablemates is his preferred next opponent, ‘The Jackal’ will also be keenly aware of what is going on in Maryland a few hours later when WBC champ Gary Russell Jr defends his belt versus JoJo Diaz.
The Tiger’s Bay 31-year-old has revealed that the Selby-Warrington winner is not the only opponent in the frame and that he will also consider facing the winner of Russell-Diaz.
In addition, Frampton also has a feeling that Russell, the favourite for Saturday, could vacate his title should he win – potentially clearing the way for a vacant title shot.
The Ulsterman has been highly rated by the WBC in the past but has dropped out in the most recent rankings due to his winning of the WBO interim belt last month versus Nonito Donaire.
Frampton has been accused by some, perhaps wearing tin-foil hats, of avoiding Russell in the past – with his failure to make weight for his doomed fight with Andreas Gutierrez last year seen as a deliberate ploy as the bout was scheduled to be a WBC eliminator. That the fight was labelled a WBC eliminator merely because both fighters were ranked in the Top 15 rather than it being an actual ‘final’ eliminator which would lead to a title fight is often overlooked
Should Russell vacate, it is unclear whether the unranked Frampton could squeeze in to fight for the vacant belt – although Filipino Mark Magsayo, who has been touted as a potential WBO interim title defence is the next highest-ranked boxer
Writing in his weekly column for the Sunday Life, Frampton outlined how “by this time next week, I should be a lot clearer on who will be facing me at Windsor Park in August on the back of two World featherweight title fights either side of the Atlantic.”
“I will be ringside at Elland Road, the home of Leeds United to see Josh Warrington challenge Lee Selby, and then in the early hours of Sunday morning Gary Russell defends the WBC title against JoJo Diaz.”
“The winner of Selby and Warrington would seem to be the obvious target for Windsor, but the outcome of Russell-Diaz should no be completely overlooked either. The winner of that could be an option for the Summer, but also if Russell wins and then decides to vacate the title, then that could open up the door to me fighting for the belt.”
As Frampton has said, the situation is currently unclear. Promoter Frank Warren is actively backing Warrington on Saturday and has already stated his desire to have Frampton go down the WBO route to set up a unification in the new year.
Perhaps with this in mind, Frampton is backing and is hopeful of a Selby win on Saturday, with the Welshman having already stated that he will be game for a 12-week fight-to-fight turnaround to face Frampton in Belfast – whether this is feasible is another discussion.
Frampton described how “The ideal result for me is a one-round blow-out for either man, no injuries and then we do a deal for Windsor, but I think it will be Selby on points. That would put him in position for Windsor and he has said that he will come to Belfast to fight, so I would hope he’ll honour his word – unlike Leo Santa Cruz.”
With turnaround being the main issue, many see a defence of the WBO interim belt, perhaps against Magsayo, as the likeliest eventuality for Windsor.
Frampton, obviously, is extremely keen to fight for a legitimate world title, and will no doubt do his utmost to secure one.
It is hard, but not impossible, to imagine any of Selby, Warrington, Russell, or Diaz being ready for August 18th and Frampton’s mention of a WBC vacant route is an interesting new angle.
The scenario would certainly fit the bill and is another option along with the increasing suggestions that he could step up to super featherweight temporarily and aim to grab either of the vacant WBO or IBF belts and become Ireland’s first three-weight champion.