He hasn’t even gotten into the ring in Las Vegas yet and Carl Frampton [23(14)-0] is picking up more awards and accolades.
Literally hours before he is set to defend his WBA featherweight title against Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Grand, the Ring Magazine fighter of the Year was honoured by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
The BWAA have followed the Ring’s lead and named Ireland’s second-two weight world champion their Fighter of the Year for 2016.
Frampton becomes the first ever fighter from Ireland to have been bestowed the honour in the 79-year history of the award.
“I’m very honoured by this,” Frampton said in a statement released by the BWAA. “It was a great year, 2016.”
The two-weight titlist received the award following a year where he unified the super bantamweight division with victory over arch-rival Scott Quigg before going on to become a two weight World champ by out pointing Leo Santa Cruz.
“A lot was made of that fight,” he said reflecting on the Quigg grudge match.
“The fight maybe didn’t live up to expectations, but I showed my class in that fight and I think I won it pretty convincingly. The atmosphere is what I remember most. It was a night that I’ll never forget,” he added before discussing his classic with Leo Santa Cruz.”
“Against Santa Cruz, I know I was a big underdog,” Frampton fondly recalls. “It was my first fight at featherweight and no one really expected me to do much. A lot of people were just hopeful I would put on a good performance and would be enough and Leo would get the win. But I was confident that I was going to beat him. I thought I was the stronger fighter and I thought I would be better at featherweight than I was at 122lbs.”
In earning this year’s honors, Frampton edged out a talent-laden field that included, Terence Crawford, Roman Gonzalez, Vasyl Lomachenko, Manny Pacquiao, and Joe Smith.
“The boxing writers choosing me is like winning an Oscar as an actor,” Frampton said. “It was a great year, but to be the first Irishman to win this is huge. There are a lot of great fighters to come out of Ireland, so it means a lot.”