The shortlist for who could be Carl Frampton‘s next opponent is looking exceedingly short.
The Belfast featherweight will have a homecoming fight at Windsor Park football stadium this Summer, but ‘The Jackal’ is having trouble finding a big name opponent for a blockbuster fight.
Over the past few weeks, big names such as Leo Santa Cruz (WBA champ), Abner Mares, Lee Selby (IBF champ), and Gary Russell Jr (WBC champ) have all been more or less ruled out.
All of the above are, alongside Frampton, advised by influential U.S. mogul Al Haymon. WBO champion Oscar Valdez, who defends his belt against Miguel Marriaga in two weeks time, on the other hand is promoted by Top Rank, and a cross-promotional event in Belfast of all places looks massively unlikely.
Going through the list of recognisable featherweight names, JoJo Diaz is another promoted by a Haymon rival, Golden Boy, and has a fight lined up next month anyway.
Then there is Josh Warrington, who also has a fight next month, with former Frampton foe Kiko Martinez. Regardless, with Warrington looking likely to become one of the jewels in Frank Warren’s new crown, it would be inconceivable for him to have been put in with Frampton this Summer.
Also, there is the Freddie Roach-trained Jesus Cuellar, however the Argentine has stated his intention to move up to super featherweight.
Many will also call for a fight with Cuban maestro Guillermo Rigondeaux, perhaps unaware that the Caribbean stylist is the current WBA champion one weight below and defends his belt against Moises Flores on June 17th.
So, knowing who it WONT be, Irish-Boxing.com looks below at some of the recognisable boxers who it COULD be.
Aside from those listed above, Vetyeka is the only remaining featherweight champion (past and present) at the weight. The 36 year old won the WBA title by defeating Chris John in 2013 before losing a somewhat controversial technical decision to Nonito Donaire in his first defence. The African has since joined Cork manager Gary Hyde’s multinational stable and the Irishman is extremely keen on the fight. Vetyeka has spent a lot of time in Ireland recently, and has sparred with Eric Donovan, Declan Geraghty, and James Tennyson among others.
While some may not want to entertain the possibility of a rematch following their drab fight in Manchester last year, Scott Quigg remains a big, recognisable name and one which will forever be connected to Frampton. The Bury boxer defends his WBA International trinket at the end of the month against Viorel Simion on the Joshua-Klitschko undercard at Wembley, however it is assumed that the rematch-hungry 28 year old would jump at the chance of a Summer rematch. In terms of profile, it is the biggest possible fight out there for Frampton
While he has done nothing to warrant a big fight at featherweight since returning from his drugs ban, Galahad is another recognisable name and a good trash talker that could help build a big event. The former British, Commonwealth, and European super bantamweight champion has chased Frampton for years with little success, however he now has the backing of Richard Poxon and ITV. Someone who has expressly said that they will come to Windsor, could Frampton and Cyclone be tempted by the ITV platform?
A very big name, the 34 year old is in the process of rebuilding following losing his WBO super bantamweight belt to Mick Conlan gym-mate Jessie Magdaleno in November. The popular former pound-for-pound star and four-weight champion is now a free agent having split with Top Rank and is known as a boxer willing to travel. Could Cyclone entice the Filipino Flash to move back up in weight and across the Atlantic to Belfast?
The former IBF bantamweight champion and WBA/WBO super bantamweight title challenger is now up at feather. A tough, durable opponent, albeit one past his best, Agbeko would provide Frampton with a somewhat recognisable name. The 37 year African old was recently scheduled to face Galahad, however was forced to pull out on the day of the fight. Probably the least attractive name on this list, but one who would be better than a complete unknown.
Some have suggested that Frampton may make a move to 130lbs for a legacy-making third world title. The WBO belt here will most likely be vacated soon by Vasyl Lomachenko. IBF champ Gervonta Davis defends against Liam Walsh next month, while WBC titlist Miguel Berchelt will defend against Takashi Miura in the Summer. WBA champ Jezreel Corrales of Panama would seem the most likely, albeit still hard to imagine, considering he has no fight lined up and had his last two contests on the road in Japan.
Who do you think Carl Frampton will fight this Summer?