The Belfast featherweight was defeated by the reigning IBF champion in the inaugural domestic BT Sport Box Office event tonight at the Manchester Arena.
‘The Leeds Warrior’ was just too busy and physical for Frampton, with a sensational start setting the tone and his activity throughout was enough to triumph over ‘The Jackal’ who was gallant and came back strong in the second half.
Frampton was returning to world title fights for the first time in almost two years since his rematch defeat to Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas. Since then the Irishman has seen a fight with Andres Gutierrez fall through bizarrely, split with the McGuigans, linked up with Jamie Moore and Frank Warren, and reeled off three wins on the BT Sport platform.
In this time, Warrington was building steadily, crossing the British promotional divide from Eddie Hearn to Warren and getting in two solid European wins over Kiko Martinez and Dennis Ceylan before claiming the IBF belt with an upset win over Lee Selby in May at Elland Road. Indeed, since his shock dethroning of the Welshman, Warrington had gone from a potential opponent that was laughed off in relation to Frampton to a very slight underdog.
The build-up had been niggly without ever becoming too heated, with Frampton’s pointed responses to a number of Warrington claims being the only real ‘beef’ to speak of.
The Ulsterman was said to be past his prime and Warrington predicted a stoppage – and while the latter did not play out, the 28-year-old champion was able to outwork Frampton and get the win.
There was drama from the very off with the pair trading in the very first round and it was Warrington that got the better of the opening exchanges, forcing Frampton to stagger back across the ring
After a better start from Frampton, the hostilities resumed in the second and the relentless Warrington was again casing Frampton serious trouble, almost sending ‘The Jackal’ down as he leathered in a disorientating flurry of punches.
It was slower-paced, relatively, in the third, but the sharper shots were still coming from Warrington – although a straight right hand from Frampton gave some hope.
A much better fourth from Frampton saw him judge the distance well although a late push from Warrington may have stolen him the round.
A close fifth saw Warrington the busier and again scoring well up close while Frampton’s best work was on the outside heavy rights.
The sixth was slow initially, much to Frampton’s benefit – however another final minute push from Warrington, where he forced the North Belfast fighter to the ropes put it up for debate.
As we moved into the second half the bout had seemed to set into a pattern, with Frampton boxing well early on before an aggressive final 60 seconds from Warrington.
Through seven the punch stats were 2:1 in Warrington’s favour and Frampton would raise the intensity, sinking heavy shots into the champion and timing his shots better when in close.
The momentum of the fight potentially turned, Frampton’s boxing again paid dividends in the ninth and his bodywork seemed to be taking something out of Warrington – but, of course, there was the customary strong finish from the Yorkshireman.
A more close-quarters tenth, Warrington would swarm while Frampton looked to time big shots.
Into the championship rounds, Frampton controlled the first half of the eleventh off the jab and landed well with the right hand in the face of continued activity and good work in close from Warrington.
Perhaps feeling he needed a stoppage Frampton came out aggressively in the final round and was hurt by an accidental clash of heads. Following a brief pause, the action resumed and Warrington fired in a stunning salvo that bent over the challenger. Frampton would come back and push until the bell landing big single shots but it looked to be the relentless champion’s night.
Embracing at the close, Frampton looked somewhat forlorn and Warrington’s victory was confirmed on a unanimous decision with scores of 116-113 and 116-112 twice in favour of Josh Warrington.
The defeat sees Frampton drop to 26(15)-2(0) and his future in the sport looks unsure, with the Tiger’s Bay hero admitting that he will need to talk to his team and family before he decides on his next move.
Warrington, who was phenomenal, improves to 28(6)-0 and he will now look to fight in America, chasing unifications with the likes of Oscar Valdez, Leo Santa Cruz, and Gary Russell Jr.