Carl Frampton aims to rule the featherweight division again

Carl Frampton has been at the pinnacle of the sport before, but according to the beloved Irishman, the best is yet to come.

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Santa Cruz vs Frampton Full Fight: July 30, 2016 - PBC on Showtime

Carl Frampton has been there before. Two years ago, his name could be found on every pound-for-pound list and on the tongue of many a fight fan.

In February 2016, he thoroughly dissected long-time rival Scott Quigg. That paved the way for an American odyssey that began with a stunning win over outstanding Mexican champion Leo Santa Cruz at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center. Frampton, one of the United Kingdom’s most beloved boxers, was now breaking down barriers across the Atlantic. The son of Belfast loved every minute of it.

Frampton hopes to recapture that feeling this Saturday, December 22nd, when he meets IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

“2016 was the perfect year for me from a boxing standpoint,” reflects a jovial Frampton. “I was recognized by the Boxing Writers of America and by Ring Magazine as their Fighter of the Year. I was grateful to get the recognition from people in the sport.”

Frampton was operating at boxing’s most prestigious echelon, but his 2017 got off to the worst possible start. The Las Vegas sequel with Santa Cruz in January didn’t go his way. He was the recipient of a majority decision loss, his sole defeat to date.

But events outside the ring overshadowed his performance in it. His well-documented split with the McGuigan family—members of Frampton’s close circle throughout his career—became a major focal point for the press back home. That turmoil is being handled by legal experts on both sides. Frampton refuses to let the unfortunate matter distract him, insisting he’s as motivated today as he was just a couple of years ago when he ruled the featherweight parish.

“There’s clichés in boxing about feeling great and having the best camp, but this honestly is one of the best I’ve ever felt going into a fight,” he said. “So much has gone on since the second Santa Cruz fight with me having to start again with a new trainer and new promoter, but Jamie Moore has been fantastic and I’ve also had MTK Global and Frank Warren working hard behind the scenes for me.

“There was a lot to take in because all I’ve ever really known is boxing. So when the stuff outside the ring became a big issue in my life, I had to take a step back and make sure it was all being taken care of correctly because all that stuff with solicitors isn’t my strong point.”

All I want from now on is big fights that are going to bring the best out of me because I still believe I’ve got so much to give. Two Division World Champion Carl Frampton

Frampton, 26-1 (15 KOs), reconstructed himself after the Santa Cruz setback, defeating respected campaigners such as Filipino icon, Nonito Donaire, and the tough Luke Jackson. The quest to return to world title class brings him to Manchester, where Warrington, 27-0 (6 KOs), awaits.

Frampton enters the bout a significant betting favorite and an even bigger one by his own account. Warrington’s dismantling of Wales’ Lee Selby, a result that impressed many, hardly registered with “The Jackal.”

“There was stuff about Selby being weight drained, but I’d go as far to say that he was absolutely malnourished,” he said. “Warrington’s team got it right in the way that they kept having these small title fights instead of facing Selby and it was like they were waiting for him at the right time because issues about his weight were well known.

“[Warrington] went in there and performed well to get the win, but I was more disappointed in Selby than what I was impressed with Warrington. He’s improved and there’s things I may have to be wary of, but if I box to the level that I’m capable of then there’s no way on Earth that he can beat me. There are people I’ve beaten that I wouldn’t give Josh a chance against.”

Frampton is fixated on Warrington, but doesn’t hide his desire to return to the lavish palaces of Brooklyn and Las Vegas, venues that warmly greeted him in the not-too-distant past. The confident 31-year-old insists 2019 will be his best year yet.

“The dream for me is a third fight with Santa Cruz so we can settle the score and find out just who the better man is,” he said. “We’ve already had two brilliant fights that were both close so a third meeting should provide more of the same. All I want from now on is big fights that are going to bring the best out of me because I still believe I’ve got so much to give.”

For a closer look at "The Jackal," check out Carl Frampton's fighter page.

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