The best matches from Carl Frampton’s career
The early days
The Jackal was one of the best super bantamweights of the last 10 years – he was in some of the greatest fights of the 2010s and there are a few contenders we will pick out today.
Carl Frampton’s success and his ability to travel across the pond and take on the absolute best fighters in his weight class made him part of an elite group of UK fighters who could call themselves genuinely world-class in the 2010s. But unfortunately, the sport dwindled heavily throughout the 2000s.
Although fighters such as Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe captured the public’s imagination and had big wins, British Boxing was on the slide thanks to poor matchups and a lack of quality, big domestic fights.
Carl Froch was another fighter travelling to America to win a genuine world title belt as we entered the 2010s. The WBC, WBA and IBF world titles are considered the premium belts, for those unaware. It can be challenging with the saturation of nothing belts suffocating a system that is hard to understand for even the most ardent fans, never mind casual viewers who want to watch the big fights.
The rise of The Jackal
Carl’s ability was evident in his amateur days, and Irish boxing legend Barry McGuigan guided Frampton through the early days of his career. Although their relationship soured toward the latter end of Frampton’s illustrious reign, their working relationship was phenomenal in the early days.
As Frampton made his way up through the professional ranks, his first test that he passed with flying colours was when he knocked out Kiko Martínez in nine rounds. However, this victory for the European title has improved over time, as Martinez is still operating at a world level despite being in his forties. This was on frightening display when he flattened Kid Galahad in front of a shocked home crowd at the Sheffield Arena.
After defeating him for the European title, he matched against him for the world title. He won unanimously on the cards to claim the IBF super-bantamweight title at the Belfast Arena and take the first step to creating his boxing legacy.
Unification bout against Quigg
Following two successful defences, a mega domestic showdown against Scott Quigg, built up for years to unify the IBF and WBA titles, was pencilled in for February 2016. Unfortunately, the fight failed to live up to expectations and although both fighters were at the peak of their powers, an awkward mix of style and a broken jaw for Quigg meant the fight laboured to the scorecards, where Carl came out on top.
It wasn’t a candidate for fight of the year, but as far as Carl’s career goes, it was one of his best nights. Of course, all fighters dream of beating their most significant domestic rival and unifying two leading world title belts. Still, very few achieve this, regardless of how entertaining the bout was.
Frampton vs Santa Cruz I & II
The Jackal’s incredible dust-ups against Mexican-American Leo Santa Cruz were the two candidates for fight of the year. Frampton moved up to featherweight to challenge El Terremoto, who was undefeated and the favourite going into the bout.
Following a sensational 12-round war in which neither fighter took a backward step, Carl became a legitimate two-division world champion. It topped off the most extraordinary year of his career, with him winning multiple prestigious Fighter of the Year accolades from esteemed publications such as the Boxing Writers of America and The Ring magazine.
Travelling to New York to dethrone Santa Cruz cemented Frampton’s legacy. Although he lost the rematch, these two matches signal why Frampton was so good and why he was so beloved by his fans. He could mix it with the best of them, had great power, speed, heart and chin, and wasn’t afraid to match fire with fire.
Frampton vs Donaire
Considering how an ageing Donaire took Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue right to the wire in their first bout, this is another victory of Frampton’s that has aged even more impressively as time has marched on.
The fight was pretty uneventful, but given Donaire’s explosive power and the fact that he has flattened opponents in the blink of an eye, it was a solid game plan from the Northern Irish world champion. It was as measured as the respectful build-up was, with plenty of poise.
Frampton boxed to a great game plan to win a commanding 12-round decision. Now that he has retired and can look back on a career with incredible highs, he may even rank the Donaire victory in front of a sold-out home crowd as the best of his entire career.