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What the Featherweight division holds for Carl Frampton

Newly unified Super-Bantamweight champion of the world Carl Frampton has been ordered by both the IBF and WBA governing bodies to either fight his mandatory challenger in his next bout, or relinquish his title’s and his World champion status.

This hasn’t came as a surprise to the Frampton camp as the situation was known before the massive Pay-Per-View event against Scott Quigg that took place last month in Manchester. Although the IBF say they have received no indication from Cyclone promotions that ‘The Jackal’ will not fulfil his obligation to fight their mandatory challenger Shingo Wake (20-4-2) of Japan, it is believed Frampton will leave behind the 122lb division and move up in search of a second world championship and at a second weight.

The fight with the number one man in the super-bantamweight division and WBA ‘Champion in recess’ Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0) is looking less and less likely which is sure to annoy purists, who have been calling for Frampton and Quigg to step-up and fight the two-time Olympic champion.

Is it a duck? maybe. But its one that makes obvious business sense. We are told over and over that the fight with ‘Rigo’ is very high risk-low reward. The Cuban sensations strange dealings with Roc Nation and Frank Warren regarding the visa issue when he was pencilled into fight Jazza Dickens in Liverpool last week wont have helped his case in the search of a big money showdown with the Belfast fan-favourite.

Rigondeaux wants Frampton and his titles
Rigondeaux wants Frampton and his titles

Personally this is the fight this writer would have loved to have seen as I’m a big fan of the Cuban and think that it would have been a no-lose situation for Frampton. I believe the respect he would receive in stepping up to fight the man who everyone avoids would well outweigh the sadness if the outcome was to be a first professional defeat for the Tigers Bay man, the big fights at featherweight would still be there should Frampton step up and come up shirt against Rigo.

But on the other hand, a win would cast him amongst the elite of the pound for pound fighters in the world and cement his position as one of the greatest super-bantamweight ever enter the squared circle. But Barry McGuigan and Cyclone don’t want to take that risk and if the bigger money is else-where then that’s where they will go, and who could blame them, boxing is a short career, the aim is to get in and make as much money as possible and get out with all your faculties intact. And who knows, maybe Rigondeaux might move up himself and it could still happen in the future.

Judging by what we have seen with call-outs in post fight interviews and social media, it looks like Frampton is ready to give up those belts and leave the division behind in search of a world championship in the featherweight division with his eyes set firmly on Mexico’s undefeated superstar Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1).

Frampton and Santa Cruz are of no strangers to each other as their names have been thrown together for a couple of years now as both held World titles while campaigning in the super-bantamweight division- Santa Cruz holding the WBC version of the championship.

Santa Cruz could be next
Santa Cruz could be next

The three weight World champion is a tough fight for anybody, his come forward style is pleasing to the eye and whilst yet to maybe show the same versatility as Frampton, he packs a mean punch of his own. He also boasts killer instinct once he feels like he his opponent hurt. In his last bout he took out former Frampton foe Kiko Martinez in a 5th round TKO in what was his first defense of the world title that he won against Abner Mares in a thrilling 12 round majority decision win last year.

Both fighters are advised by what many call the most powerful man in boxing Al Haymon, which should make this fight easy to make and from the rumours on twitter it seems like a deal could be close but location is seemingly becoming a problem. Team Frampton would rather have the bout in a stadium in Belfast, while Leo Santa Cruz camp apparently are pushing for it to be on the west coast or at least east coast of America.

Wherever it happens it is sure to be a massive fight globally and will be another massive payday for both fighters who at this stage of their careers are looking at leaving legacies behind them.

The featherweight division is stacked with big names and big fights such as the Welsh IBF Champion ‘Lightning’ Lee Selby (22-1) who took to twitter to warn Carl Frampton to ‘be careful what he wishes for’ in reference to Carl mentioning his name in the ring after his win over Scott Quigg last month.

Selby is a very interesting fight and the talented slickster would relish the chance to shine under the pay-per-view lights in what would be a huge domestic bout, undoubtedly his biggest pay cheque and with potentially the same IBF and WBA titles Carl unified in the division below, on the line. Its a match-up that could capture the imagination of the UK & Irish market.  Selby won his world championship when he beat tough Russian Evgeny Gradovich last year and has followed that up with a successful first defence in America against Mexican former World Champion Fernando Montiel (54-5-2).

Another name in which The Shane McGuigan trained fighter mentioned in his last post-fight interview was one of the best amateurs to ever grace the ring Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1) who holds the WBO featherweight world title and much like Rigondeaux in the super-bantam division, is the most avoided man at the 126lb limit.

The Ukranian is a double World and Olympic champion with eye catching footwork and a wide array of vicious attacks in his armoury which would prove a real hard nights work for any fighter in the surrounding divisions never mind just his own. ‘Loma’ fought for a professional World title in just his second paid bout, coming into the fight with a record of 1-0, he lost a close split decision to the Mexican – Orlando Salido (41-12-2) who later vacated the title which left the Ukranian legend to fight Gary Russell Jr for the vacant strap, which Lomachenko won on a majority decision inflicting the American the 24-0 with his 1st professional loss.

Gary Russell Jr (26-1) is now the holder of the WBC featherweight title after bouncing back from defeat against ‘Loma’ with wins against Christopher Martin and Johnny Gonzalez and takes on our very own Patrick Hyland (31-1) next month in Connecticut. A Punisher win could set up a major domestic All -Ireland unification bout if they both pass the first test of dethroning their respective featherweight titlists.

The winner of Hyland versus Russell Jr might be an exciting option
The winner of Hyland versus Russell Jr might be an exciting option

Russell Jr is an excellent all-round boxer after a decorated amateur career. Of all the champions named above he is the shortest at 5ft 4 1/2 which would give Frampton a rare height advantage against the 2011 Ring Magazine ‘Prospect of the year’.

Whatever and wherever Frampton goes next, the ever-growing ‘Jackal Army’ are sure to follow. Frampton recently stated that he sees himself as having a ‘maximum of ten more fights’ which is good news for Irish boxing and even better news for his massive following. One thing is for sure, with Carl moving up and with the huge fan-base he has, all the big guns will be knocking on his door determined to get a slice of the box-office star.