Would Carl Frampton Have Beaten Guillermo Rigondeaux?

Recently we wrote about the decision by the WBA to strip Carl Frampton of his recently won title, due to various regulations. Basically, Frampton was required to take on Guillermo Rigondeaux for his next fight should he beat Scott Quigg in February. After defeating Quigg to secure his title, Frampton instead went his own way, abandoning the weight class and scheduling his own next fight, and true to its word and rules the WBA acted accordingly.

It’s disappointing for Frampton and indeed for his fans, though it’s not as if the door is shut on a future bout with Rigondeaux. And now it’s left to us to wonder: would Frampton have won such a bout if he’d focused his energies on it coming right out of the Quigg fight? Really, no one can say for certain, but we can speculate as to what such a fight would have looked like.

For starters, let’s go back a few months and recall that though he’s currently enjoying inflated status, Carl Frampton was not considered to be a sure thing when he fought Scott Quigg. Though the Irish bookies not on Gamstop gave him the edge, there were some who questioned whether or not he could get the job done, particularly after he struggled somewhat with Alejandro Gonzalez, Jr. In particular, former Manny Pacquiao coach Freddy Roach appeared to favour Quigg.

Of course we now know that Quigg wasn’t able to get the job done, and Frampton won by split decision. This is merely a reminder that not so long ago both fighters were viewed as being on fairly even ground, and a notch beneath Rigondeaux. Indeed, just two years ago it was suggested in one article that Frampton just wasn’t ready to take on a fighter of Rigondeaux’s level. Comparing Rigondeaux’s desire to take on Frampton to the Floyd Mayweather situation with Canelo Alvarez—that of a prime champion wanting to fight a challenger before the challenger reaches his peak—the article referred to the idea of the fight as a “leap up in class” for Frampton.

But again, that was two years ago. Frampton is now 29 and has continued to improve, to the point at which we ought to expect him to at least be able to reasonably challenge Rigondeaux. Indeed, this may be why Rigondeaux recently called Frampton a coward, accusing the would-be challenger of vacating his title rather than fighting the best. This sort of accusation is pretty standard in the boxing world, but even fans of Frampton have to wonder at this point if the generally detested Rigondeaux might not have a point.

But would Frampton have been able to win if the fight had taken place? Probably, sure. Rigondeaux remains one of the more effective pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, but he’s not at such a level that Frampton isn’t capable of challenging and perhaps beating him. With that said, it’s a pretty sure bet that Rigondeaux would have been the favourite, and these two have danced around one another long enough that he might also have had the psychological advantage. It would have likely been a good fight (even if Rigondeaux is a bore to watch), but one more year of seasoning might ultimately benefit Frampton.


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