Windsor Wonder – Dream fight secured for Frampton but pathway uncertain


“WINDSOR F*CKING PARK,” roared Carl Frampton from atop one of the ring posts in the SSE Odyssey Arena.

It was around midnight and the Belfast featherweight had just largely dominated future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire.

A couple of cagey rounds and a scare in the eleventh aside, Frampton [25(14)-1(0)] was well on top, claiming a unanimous decision win and adding a vaunted name to his record.

While Donaire was still a real threat, although admittedly somewhat past his best, a major thread in the build-up to the WBO interim title fight was actually Frampton’s next fight.

The promise of ‘The Jackal’s’ dream date at Windsor Park was made last year by new promoter Frank Warren and Donaire was seen as a – very risky – final hurdle.

“I was asked about Windsor Park constantly in the build-up to this fight and I didn’t want people to think I was overlooking Donaire – because I wasn’t,” noted Frampton after the 117-111 x3 points win.

With The Filipino Flash out of the way, the stadium fight can now command Frampton’s full focus.

“There’s only one thing on my mind – Windsor Park. I can’t wait to get there,” said the 31-year-old, a fanatical fan of the Northern Ireland football team

“I’m very excited, it’s been a long time coming. It should have happened before but Frank’s making it happen now.

“Everyone knows how excited I am. I can’t wait. There’s not a man on this planet at featherweight that’s going to beat me at Windsor Park.”

In terms of who the opponent will be, Frampton is non-plussed and stated that all he wants is “a big fight, I want a world title. It doesn’t matter at Windsor Park, whoever it is, I don’t care.”

The man tasked with making a match-up will be Hall of Fame promoter Warren.

The Londoner had stated beforehand that his preferred option would be for Frampton to fight for the WBO title and for his Queensberry stablemate Josh Warrington to dethrone IBF champ Josh Warrington on May 19th to set up a unification at a later date.

Following last night’s fight, Warren explained that everything is still up in the air.

“There’s a couple of options,” argued the veteran fight boss.

“You’ve got Lee Selby and Josh Warrington on the 19th of May at Leeds United. That’s one option, the winner of that.”

“The other thing is, it depends what the WBO do, they may order [champion] Oscar Valdez to make his mandatory defence against Carl.”

“We’ll see how it goes, we won’t rush it. All we do know is that, August, we’ll be doing that fight for Carl and he will be getting his dream.”

“We’re going to be there in August. All the bits will fall into place as regards who the opponent is in the next month or so. Windsor Park is the next one. We promised it to Carl and we’ll deliver.”

While Valdez’s promoter Bob Arum seems open to a trip to Belfast, talk has been circulating that the Mexican may move up in weight, while there is also the issue of a broken jaw suffered last month versus Scott Quigg which would seem to rule him out of an August return.

Going by Warren’s recent trend of comments – as well as a relatively short turnaround between May and August – the Selby-Warrington winner is also a somewhat tough fight to envision.

A potential outcome is that Frampton is elevated to WBO champion in the near future should Valdez move up in weight or be sidelined for an extended period, meaning the Windsor Park date could be a title defence versus the likes of Mark Magsayo.

This eventuality was acknowledged by Frampton but the Tiger’s Bay man – who played down the standing of his interim belt ahead of the Donaire clash – wants to ‘win’ the title in the ring.

“I’m hearing, through the grapevine, he [Valdez] may even move up in weight and then he [Frampton] gets put in as champion, we’ll see what happens,” Warren had proposed before Frampton sought to clarify the title status.

“Whatever happens with Valdez, if I go into that [Windsor] fight and I’m elevated to champion going into the fight, I want to win the fight before I start calling myself a world champion, whoever it’s against,” he quipped.

“Tyson Fury said that no man born from his mother can beat him and that’s how I feel going into my next fight at Windsor Park. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Oscar Valdez, Lee Selby or Josh Warrington – I’ll beat the lot of them.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie