Carl Frampton’s master plan: Take care of Scott Quigg, then move on to Guillermo Rigondeaux

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Carl Frampton already knows how he’ll celebrate a victory over U.K. rival Scott Quigg on Saturday: He wants to set up a mouthwatering clash with Cuban ace Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Carl Frampton

Carl Frampton has a huge test ahead of him Saturday when he faces Scott Quigg in a title unification bout, but he's already eyeing his next opponent: unbeaten 122-pound star Guillermo Rigondeaux. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

To be clear, Frampton isn’t looking past Quigg—far from it. But he regards the unbeaten Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KOs) as the pinnacle in the 122-pound division, and says he’s eager to face the 35-year-old later this year, be it in America or Britain.

Carl Frampton (21-0, 14 KOs), who will end a seven-month layoff with Saturday’s title unification showdown against Scott Quigg (31-0-2, 23 KOs) at Manchester Arena (Showtime, 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT), insists Rigondeaux still looms large in the division.

“As far as I am concerned, until I have beaten Rigo I cannot call myself No. 1 in the super bantamweight class,” Frampton says. “I’m the only fighter out there with the skill set to defeat someone as good as him. I’m quick, brave and I can fight on the inside or use my jab to connect from outside the box. I can do everything, and I’d love to prove it against Rigo—after I get rid of Quigg.”

Rigondeaux, who was stripped of his two world titles late last year due to inactivity, ended a near yearlong absence from the ring in November when he dominated Drian Francisco on points in Las Vegas. In a rare quick turnaround, the Cuban star will box Britain’s James “Jazza” Dickens (21-1, 6KOs) on March 12 in Dickens’ hometown of Liverpool, just 30 miles from the Frampton-Quigg clash in Manchester.

Although the Miami-based Rigondeaux has fought just once in 14 months and three times since December 2013, his presence in the division remains enormous. Hence the reason Frampton has Rigondeaux in his sights even while he has both eyes firmly focused on Quigg.

“Don’t get me wrong: I’m not looking past Quigg for one second. But I am absolutely determined to fight the best, and Rigo certainly comes into that category,” says the 29-year-old native of Belfast, Northern Ireland. “He may be in his mid-30s, but in his last fight he looked impressive. Basically every time you see Rigo fight you cannot fail to be impressed.

“He is a class fighter. And I’m in the business of fighting class fighters, which is why I am taking on and beating Quigg.”

Quigg and Frampton both possess 122-pound world titles, and each has promised to deliver a memorable show Saturday at the sold-out, 21,000-seat Manchester Arena.

“I’m confident of victory, but I know I am up against a top opponent in Quigg so there will be no overconfidence,” Frampton says. “I’m not that type anyway. I always take my next opponent as the next obstacle to overcome, and it won’t be any different against Quigg. I just know I will beat him and then, if I had my way, I would get a fight on with Rigo as soon as possible.

“A fighter is only as good as the boxers he fights, and I want to be remembered as an athlete who always took on the best, never ducked anybody and always gave value for money.”

Oddly enough, Frampton’s nickname is “The Jackal,” while Rigondeaux’s is “El Chacal,” which also translates to “The Jackal.” The similarities don’t end with alter egos, either: Frampton launched his pro career in June 2009, exactly three weeks after Rigondeaux turned pro. Also, Frampton has knocked out 67 percent of his opponents, while Rigondeaux sports a stoppage rate of 63 percent.

It’s unknown if Rigondeaux will be sitting ringside for Saturday’s Frampton-Quigg clash, but the unbeaten Cuban will certainly have a very interested observer when he takes on Dickens two weeks later.

“I can’t wait to see him in Britain,” Frampton says. “The fact that he is fighting just a few weeks after me in Liverpool is incredible.

“Fair play to Jazza Dickens for taking him on. That shows a lot of confidence and bravery, and I take my hat off to him. I’d like to be next in line.”

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