The Leeds favourite outpointed reigning champion Lee Selby at Elland Road to take the red belt and, it emerged, strike a blow at Frampton’s Windsor Park plans.
‘The Jackal’ fights at the Belfast football stadium on Saturday August 18th and the prevailing narrative had initially been that he would fight for a title versus the winner of last night’s all-British title fight – although scheduling the two stadium dates so close together in the first place raises questions of whether promoter Frank Warren ever really intended for this plan to take place.
Warren’s Queensberry Boxing outfit promotes all three fighters – although he was publically backing big ticket-seller Warrington – and the promoter recently began to cool talk of a fight between Frampton and ‘The Leeds Warrior’. Meanwhile, Selby had stated his desire throughout the build-up to defeat Warrington and quickly move on to Belfast.
With that in mind, a decisive defence from Selby had been hoped for but, following a strong start from Warrington and a nasty cut in the second round, this never looked likely and the English fighter ran out a split-decision winner.
After the win for Warrington, a 3/1 underdog, Warren definitively ruled out a proposed August bout with Frampton.
Put on the spot in the ring afterwards regarding a Warrington-Frampton fight, Warren said that “they’re two massive draws, they’re very proud guys, they’ve both got their cities behind them, that’s a big, big fight and it goes into a massive big stadium.”
This massive stadium will not be Windsor Park, however, with the English promoter outlining how “Carl’s fighting on August 18th in Belfast, he’s the WBO interim champion. We’ll work out where we’re going with that [Windsor fight] over the next week and then we’re going to have this massive fight [Warrington-Frampton] eventually.”
Warrington himself seemed open to the possibility of a twelve-week turnaround, and described how “I don’t mind going anywhere.”
“I’ve been a fan of Carl over the years, I enjoy watching him fight. I said to him two weeks ago, ‘I’m going to beat Lee Selby and then I’ll come to Windsor Park’.”
“We love an away day, the boys, whichever, wherever.”
“First thing’s first though, I need to sit down with my manager [Steve Wood] and Frank, and then we’re going to try and sort it.”
However, once things got back to the dressing rooms for the press conference, Warren extinguished any hope of the fight, stating that “it’s too soon.”
“I don’t think we’re going anywhere soon. The Carl Frampton fight is there to be done. Carl is a great guy, same as Josh, two really superb boxers and a credit to the sport.”
Both have tremendous fanbases and you can imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like when these two get it on and we’re going to have to think about how we do that.”
“It’s a natural fight, whatever happens, but in the meantime it’s time to rest and enjoy yourself. We’ve got plenty of time to talk business.”
Warrington himself was less open to the fight after the adrenaline had somewhat subsided, noting that “Carl Frampton keeps on getting mentioned but Windsor Park might be a little bit too soon, we’ll have to see about that.”
“I wouldn’t mind going back to the [First Direct] Arena and having another nutty night there, defend this baby [IBF title], and then possibly see about fighting Frampton after that.”
Warrington’s long-term manager Wood also ruled out the fight, noting both timeframe and venues.
He said that Warrington “needs a bit of rest.”
“Then, you look at Windsor Park and it’s 20,000, you look at Leeds and it’s 45,000, I think it’s a no-brainer, Josh is the champion and [the venue] is twice the size. If he [Frampton] wants to fight him then he’s going to have to come here. It can happen in 12 months when the sun’s back out”
Last night now looks to have closed off another world title route for Frampton and August 18th at Windsor.
The WBA belt is off-limits with Leo Santa Cruz rematching Abner Mares on June 9th.
The WBC title remains an option. The infamously inactive champion Gary Russell Jr defended his title impressively versus JoJo Diaz. Whether the American, who fought just once a year in 2017, 2016, and 2015, will be willing to come to Belfast in three months time remains to be seen – although Frampton has suggested the possibility of Russell vacating to move up in weight and leaving a vacant title to contest.
The WBO champion is the injured Oscar Valdez who is not expected to return until November at the earliest. The Mexican’s promoter, Bob Arum, dismissed rumours that he is set to move up in weight or that the WBO will force Valdez to face interim champ Frampton on his return.
Currently holding the WBO interim belt, it would look most likely that Frampton defends this rankings tool at Windsor versus the likes of Mark Magsayo and that he and his promoter Warren then push the WBO to force Valdez to either fight him or vacate this Winter. This all could potentially pave the way for a unification with Warrington next year – which seems to have been Warren’s plan all along.