By Steve Wellings
Amidst all the hustle and bustle and outrageous hyperbole, Chris Avalos and his team have a plan. The world title challenger’s words won’t win him the IBF title later tonight but a cunningly-devised and well-executed strategy just might. Even if the visitor and his crew are understandably reluctant to divulge their best laid plans they do strongly claim to have identified key flaws in Frampton’s game. One of the key figures behind Team Avalos’ efforts is Chris’ brother Shawn. More softly spoken and articulate than his brash sibling, Shawn arrives in Belfast with a keen eye for a good boxer and, as he puts it, the knowledge to prepare for the Odyssey headliner. He has been working behind the scenes on a big fight blueprint by engaging in some extremely diligent background work.
“There’s nobody in the world rankings at 122 lb, in any governing bodies’ ratings, that I don’t know about because I have researched them all thoroughly,” said Shawn Avalos.
“I’ve been watching Frampton for a very long time, way back to his early fights, because I believe that the devil is in the detail. We know we can get this win. Frampton has got strength but I wouldn’t say he’s the biggest puncher in the world. When Frampton fought Steve Molitor, Molitor had spent 18 months out of the ring and was basically contemplating retirement. He’s also disappointed me by not going over to Manchester to challenge Scott Quigg.”
After I challenged Shawn on the latter point -mostly on the basis that Quigg isn’t a huge draw in Manchester and Frampton is a huge draw in Belfast so it made little sense for the Belfastman to travel- he conceded ground on that issue. Avalos revealed that he has scrutinised every fight ‘The Jackal’ has taken part in since the vacant Commonwealth title drubbing of Australia’s Mark Quon back in 2011.
“I’ve seen quite a few of Frampton’s fights, including the one against Raul Hirales, right back to Mark Quon. Of course I’ve seen him fight different styles and when they’re taller he runs and when opponents are shorter he engages. You can see the difference in the quality of opponents and against Kiko in the first fight he landed a lucky punch. It was lucky because Frampton was fading and I had him up by two rounds but he was definitely fading. By the second fight he knew that he had to stay back and keep Martinez at a distance because he didn’t have confidence in his power to get the knockout again.”
The Avalos clan seem to have some beef with Frampton’s two wins over Martinez and I’m not sure I concur with any of their points. Both wins over Kiko, particularly the breakout win in the first fight, were hugely reputable victories that sit solidly on Carl’s record. Frampton has 13 knockouts on that slate but Shawn Avalos thinks he has been pushed into world class too early.
“Frampton says he is a big puncher but he only has 12 knockouts. On his record of course it says 13 but I dismiss the one against Hugo Cazares because Cazares looked away, made a rookie mistake and got counted out. Frampton’s good, I mean he’s alright, but it’s all too much too soon. They should’ve held him back for about 18 months from a world title. In the first fight with Kiko it was a dogfight because Martinez knew how to handle him. Jeremy Parodi had a good record but only five knockouts, so he basically has pillow fists.
“The things my brother [Chris] says aren’t always that eloquent because he wants to get to the point. Speaking out here in press conferences isn’t going to do anything in the ring. The question is, can Frampton keep Chris off him? Everybody tells us that the atmosphere here is so great that it defeats people and eats you alive. But we’ve been in this situation a couple of times before. Chris fought Jose Nieves who was supposed to be the next big guy out of Puerto Rico and Yenifel Vicente who was the next big thing out of the Dominican Republic. He beat Rolly Lunas and Drian Francisco, both big punchers who gave good boxers the fights of their lives and Chris got rid of both those guys.”
Boxing in Frampton’s hometown makes things even tougher for Chris Avalos and Shawn reckons that having the fight in Northern Ireland means his brother has to win by knockout as he cannot win a fair decision. That’s debatable but he does have a point when he says Chris is a versatile operator with better skills and resolve than some (not the champion, it’s fair to say) are giving him credit for.
“Frampton says he’s ready for everything, well we’re going to test that. Chris is a strong puncher, he’s a young guy and you can dismiss the two losses. We will find out if Frampton is indeed a strong puncher and if he has a good chin.
“Frampton’s walking into the ring on Saturday with a guy who doesn’t care about what he brings to the table,” concluded Shawn.
Steve Wellings writes the Irish Boxing Review books.