Who will Carl Frampton [25(14)-1(0)] fight at Windsor Park on August 18th?
The Belfast featherweight has his dream date at the football stadium secured but is currently lacking a dance partner.
Promoter Frank Warren has said that there are options and that an opponent will be announced this week.
However, the vast majority, including ourselves here at Irish-Boxing.com, have little clue as to what avenues are being explored.
Frampton himself wants a big name – however, most of those look to have been ruled out while Warren has indicated that ‘The Jackal’ may face stablemate Josh Warrington in the Winter which would suggest that his August fight date may not be too much of a risk.
With many names circulating – including lots who are categorically ruled out – and fighters putting themselves forward, Irish-Boxing.com below give the most detailed and comprehensive look at the featherweight landscape to try make it somewhat clearer who the leading contenders for Windsor are.
Before we look at who it may be, however, we must look at who it definitely won’t be.
First of all, the World Champions at the weight – all four are unable to fight in Windsor.
WBA title-holder and two-time Frampton opponent Leo Santa Cruz [34(19)-1(0)-1] has a, wholly underwhelming, rematch with Abner Mares [31(15)-2(1)-1] set for June 9th which is too close to August 18th and rules both three-weight world champs out.
WBC champ Gary Russell Jr [29(17)-1(0)] defended his belt last weekend versus JoJo Diaz [26(14)-1(0)] but suffered a hand injury early in the bout which takes him out of the running. Regardless of this, the Washington boxer was always unlikely, being famed for his largely self-imposed inactivity, fighting just once a year in recent times to preserve himself.
IBF titlist and Queensberry stablemate Josh Warrington [27(6)-0] was ruled out immediately after his gruelling dethroning of Lee Selby at the weekend, with the Englishman needing time to recover and promoter Warren wanting to ‘build’ the fight.
WBO champion Óscar Valdez [24(19)-0] had his jaw broken in his successful defence versus Scott Quigg in March and will be out of the ring until November at the earliest and most likely next year.
Recently deposed IBF champ Lee Selby [26(9)-2(0)] had stated his willingness to do a twelve-week turnaround following the Warrington fight but the defeat, and his subsequent move up to super featherweight, has quashed this possibility.
A temporary move for Frampton up to super featherweight and a shot at becoming a three-weight world champion has been suggested by many but it looks as though he may have missed the boat in this instance.
The vacant WBO and IBF 130lbs titles have been widely cited but both belts will soon have vacant title fights confirmed – with WBO #1 and #2 Christopher Diaz [23(15)-0] and Masayuki Ito [23(12)-1(0)-1] boxing for the brown belt on July 28th in Florida and IBF #3 and #4 Billy Dib [43(24)-4(2)] and Tevin Farmer [25(5)-4(2)-1] vying for the red strap in Sydney on August 4th.
The WBC super featherweight title is held by Miguel Berchelt [33(29)-1(1)’ but the Mexican is due to defend his belt on June 23rd. The WBA situation will be dealt with below.
Following his win over Filipino legend Nonito Donaire, Frampton picked up the WBO interim featherweight belt. The secondary strap puts the Irishman to the top of the queue for champion Valdez once he returns from injury.
However, with the Mexican’s return being a way off, most feel that a defence of the interim trinket will be the Windsor Park fight.
There has been plenty of talk that Valdez will step up in weight and leave the belt vacant to allow Frampton to fight for a fully fledged title but Valdez’s promoter Bob Arum has denied that this will happen. Indeed the veteran Top Rank boss is confident that Valdez will be able to temporarily delay a fight with Frampton and first face a softer title defence whenever he does make his return.
With an interim defence looking likely – unless Valdez can be per$uaded to drop the belt – the opponent will probably, although not definitely (it is boxing, after all), come from the WBO’s Top 15.
Five of these (underlined) look more plausible than the others.
#1 – Mark Magsayo [18(13)-0]
An opponent that has long been suggested by this website, Magsayo’s name is being mentioned with increasing regularity. A definite contender.
#2 – Sakaria Lukas [21(14)-0]
The WBO African champion is pushing hard for a shot. The Namibian was ringside for Valdez’s defence with Quigg to call out the winner and was said to be unhappy when Frampton-Donaire was upgraded to a WBO interim title fight.
#3 – Genasis Servania [31(14)-1(0)]
The Filipino gave Valdez the toughest fight of his career, knocking down the champion before being outpointed. Another real contender for August 18th.
#4 – Oleg Malynovskyi [22(6)-0]
The unbeaten Ukrainian is the WBO European champion – albeit without ever having faced any real class – and has a clear schedule.
#5 – Luke Jackson [16(7)-0]
The Aussie, the WBO Oriental champ, is a managerial stablemate of Frampton and adviser Mike Altamura has said that he is looking to make the fight. Whether Jackson would be a worthy challenger is another story.
#6 – Manuel Avila [23(8)-1(0)]
The California southpaw was decisively defeated by JoJo Diaz last year. An interesting record, he was brought the distance by former Frampton victim Prosper Ankrah but stopped Yoandris Salinas – who drew with Scott Quigg. Possible but unlikely.
#7 – Ryan Walsh [22(11)-2(0)-2]
A promotional stablemate of Frampton, his most recent fight saw him draw with Isaac Lowe in a defence of his British title. Hard to imagine him going straight into a world title fight from this.
#8 – Richard Pumicpic [21(6)-8(0)-2]
The WBO Asia-Pacific champion has an unattractive record and little name value. Difficult to envision as a Frampton opponent.
#9 – Erick Ituarte [20(3)-1(0)]
No chance. The Mexican prospect has never even gought in a ten-round contest.
#10 – Nathaniel May [19(11)-1(0)]
The Aussie is of Belfast descent and has stated that he is open to a fight with Frampton, even offering himself as a standby for the Donaire bout.
#11 – Nonito Donaire [38(24)-5(1)]
Everyone in Belfast loves Nonito Donaire but there is no realistic chance of a rematch with Frampton following their one-sided clash last month.
#12 – Luis Lebron [11(5)-0-1]
The WBO Latino champ is unknown with no real names on his résumé. It shouldn’t be the Puerto Rican prospect.
#14 – Toka Kahn Clary [24(17)-1(1)]
The Liberian is going down the WBA route and defends his WBA-NABA belt versus Emmanuel Dominguez in Atlantic City on June 2nd.
#15 – Miguel Marriaga [26(22)-3(1)]
Another who tested Valdez. The Colombian also went the distance with Nicholas Walters and was saved by his corner versus Vasyl Lomachenko. Only added to the rankings in the most recent update, Marriaga looks to be a real possibility
You may have noticed that the above run-through of the WBO rankings left out the #12. That man is Sheffield’s Kid Galahad [24(15)-0] who is extremely keen to face Frampton – although Irish fight fans have not responded to this talk well. A Yorkshire derby with Warrington perhaps makes more sense than a Frampton fight – however, promoter Warren has ruled out working with Galahad, noting that the Matchroom-affiliated boxer can go to the “back of the queue.”
While many would vehemently oppose such a match-up – especially as the English boxer has done little to warrant a rematch since losing to Frampton two years ago – a second fight with Scott Quigg [34(25)-2(0)-2] would undoubtedly sell. The Bury boxer has stated his willingness to come to Windsor Park although feels Frampton won’t want it. Perhaps more crucially though is the promotional situation and, if what Warren said regarding Galahad rings true here, such a fight seems off the table.
WBA Super Featherweight
A reach, but there is potential for big fights here. The organisation currently boasts two 130lbs champions – the less said the better – and there is an odd situation at present where both are viewed on equal footing.
The WBA ‘Super’ super featherweight champion is Gervonta Davis [20(19)-0] a huge name in boxing and arguably the perfect Windsor opponent. The Baltimore boxer has worked with Warren before having destroyed Liam Walsh in London. However, he is currently in promotional turmoil with Floyd Mayweather and doesn’t look likely to fight soon.
The WBA ‘regular’ super featherweight champion is Puerto Rican Alberto Machado [19(16)-0] who, following some maddening moves from the WBA to demote his ‘super’ title fight with former champ Jezreel Corrales to a ‘regular’ title fight, is viewed by the large majority as a legitimate world champion. The southpaw is a target for another Belfast man in James Tennyson but could also fit the bill for a history-seeking Frampton.
So, who will it be?
The answer to this question will hopefully become known in the next couple of days. Governing bodies and promotional bravado seems to rule out a number of big names.
Someone from the WBO Top 15 is expected – either for an Interim title defence or, hopefully, a vacant title fight.
Servania, Marriaga, and Magsayo look to be the most attractive options in this case.