The Belfast featherweight is set to box the Filipino four-weight World champion at the SSE Odyssey Arena on Saturday April 21st.
Neither of the former Fighters of the Year currently hold a major title – however, the bout has attracted plenty of attention regardless and may now have an ‘interim’ belt on the line
It will be 31-year-old Frampton’s second fight since linking up with promoter Frank Warren and had been seen as essentially a de-facto eliminator for the IBF title – with champion Lee Selby defending against mandatory challenger Josh Warrington, both of whom are Warren-affiliated, facing off the following month in Leeds.
In addition to this, Warren had stated his desire to have the fight made a WBO final eliminator.
The veteran promoter has a long history with, and seems to have a strong influence over, the organisation and following this declaration the previously unranked Donaire was installed as the #8 at featherweight in the WBO rankings.
Now Warren is attempting to have Frampton v Donaire upgraded to a WBO ‘interim’ title fight – as some had predicted may occur.
The move comes following champion Oscar Valdez’s fourth defence of the title earlier this month. The Mexican successfully defended the brown belt versus former Frampton foe Scott Quigg in California.
However, the 27-year-old double Olympian had his jaw broken by the Englishman en-route to a unanimous decision win. Valdez, a former gym mate of Mick Conlan, is now set for an extended spell on the sidelines and may not return to the ring until 2019.
Warren is keen for an interim belt to be created for Frampton-Donaire, with the winner in theory having to face Valdez once the champion returns from injury.
Should an interim title be created, the winner would most likely need to defend this belt, perhaps multiple times, such is the expected extended ring absence for Valdez.
Frampton is currently ranked #4 with the WBO. The division’s #1, JoJo Diaz, is currently in negotiations to face WBC champion Gary Russell Jr.
At #2 is Filipino Mark Magsayo and #3 is Namibian Sakaria Lukas – who travelled to California to sit ringside for Valdez-Quigg and stake his claim for a title shot. Both fighters – especially Lukas, who has already requested an interim title fight – would no doubt be disappointed should Frampton-Donaire be given the secondary belt status.
Clarification on the situation is expected today.
Yesterday Warren explained to IFL TV that “I’m very excited. It’s a good fight, it’s a quality fight between two quality exponents of their art.”
“Both former world champions and I’m hoping to get it confirmed that it’ll be for the WBO interim title and that will add a bit more spice to it.”
“If not, whoever wins it, I believe, will get to the #1 spot.”
“That’s what we’re working on and hopefully we’ll know today [yesterday].”
Watch Frank Warren’s interview with IFL full below: