He’s many people’s pick for Fighter of the Year after a classy 2016, and he’s far from done. Carl Frampton – otherwise known as ‘The Jackal’ – notched decision wins over both Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz this year – taking both of their zeros in the process. Though the Quigg fight disappointed many neutrals, the Northern Irishman’s recent battle with Santa Cruz was hailed as one of the best scraps of 2016 – with the rematch now scheduled for January 28 next year.
Frampton is the ultimate proof that there’s still a glorious career to made for a British fighter without having to fight under Matchroom’s banner, and The Jackal has established himself as a legend in his hometown of Belfast. Today he spoke with BNTV, and one thing was immediately clear – he’s excited for both he and his loyal fanbase to make another trip across the pond.
I still think I’m going to outnumber his support and that’s a credit to my supporters. They’ll follow me anywhere and I’m very, very grateful for it.
“The response was huge in New York for the first fight,” He said. “We got a big crowd – but there’s gonna be more this time. I’m expecting a few thousand – maybe even upwards of four thousand which is just great. Hopefully I’ll have picked up some fans on the east coast as well, so it’s going to be brilliant.
“I think Santa Cruz was talking about New York being my home crowd and my backyard, but I don’t ever remember living in New York before. Now he’s trying to say that Vegas is a neutral venue. I wouldn’t say it’s a neutral venue – it’s around the corner from him! You can drive to Vegas from LA. Saying that, I still think I’m going to outnumber his support and that’s a credit to my supporters. They’ll follow me anywhere and I’m very, very grateful for it.”
The potential for a huge unification bout to take place back on British shores (should he prevail in January) is a huge incentive for Frampton. He’s made no secret of his desire to fight at Belfast’s Windsor Park before he retires, and that may well be possible for Summer 2017. Opponent-wise, one name immediately surfaced during discussion – Lee Selby. The Northern Irishman genuinely believes a blockbuster unification clash in Belfast with his Welsh counterpart can be made, but insisted he was firmly in the driving seat as far as negotiations went. He told us:
“I want to fight at Windsor in the summer. That’s a dream of mine, and I would like to fight there at least once in my career. I want to fight in Belfast probably once a year from now. I know it’s important to fight in America as well, but between now and the end of my career, if I’m averaging three fights a year then I want at least one to be in Belfast. We’ve kind of outgrew the Odyssey – you know – it only holds 9,000, so we’ll need to be fighting here in the summer. I think we’ll do it and get about 25,000 there, and that’ll be unbelievable.
“At Windsor I think Lee Selby makes sense. Obviously if I come through this fight it’s going to be a unification, and it’ll be a big fight against a big name in the UK. I don’t think there’d be a lot of needle between us. We have a lot of respect for each other, but they were talking about wanting the fight in Cardiff. With all due respect though, I’m the A-side. In a potential fight between me and Selby, I’m the name, so it happens on our terms. I really think we can do it in Windsor in the summer.”
As far as other names go, there appears to be one that just won’t disappear for Frampton. Scott Quigg has made no secret of his desire to secure a rematch with the now-WBA Super World featherweight title holder – even following him up a weight class from super-bantamweight.
The Jackal seemed unconvinced and uninterested in a rematch at this stage in his career – especially given the bad reviews the first contest between the two received. He added that he expected to see Quigg in Vegas in spite of his lack of interest in a rematch, and urged the Bury-based ex-champion to do something significant to prove his worth.
“He needs to do something,” He told us. “He’s talking about fighting in meaningful fights, and he’s a couple of weeks away from his next fight without an opponent. I’ve passed Scott Quigg at this point in my career, but no doubt he’ll be in Vegas following me around like he was in New York. He needs momentum, to win a few fights, to beat a big name, to pick up a title or something.
“Our fight wasn’t a good fight. It’s not appealing to the fans at this moment in time, because I beat him in first gear. It wasn’t a very good spectacle, but the Santa Cruz fight was, and this next one’s going to be a great fight. Quigg didn’t want to fight for six rounds, and I can’t do anything about that.”
We finished by discussing his stablemate George Groves, who returns to action on Friday night at The SSE Arena, Wembley. Both Carl Frampton and Barry McGuigan were present to watch on as ‘Saint George’ was put through his paces by Shane McGuigan in front of the media, and the general consensus was that Groves was looking razor-sharp ahead of his bout with the German Eduard Gutknecht. Groves is on the hunt for his fourth world title shot, and Frampton finished by telling us he expects the Londoner to put on a show and finish in style.
When he gets it going, it hurts people. They say the jab’s a range finder, but he uses it to hurt opponents.
“I think Gutknecht’s a good fighter, he looks in good shape and he’s fought up at light-heavyweight as well. It’s not an easy fight, but George is in great form, and he’s got one of the best jabs around. When I watch him sparring, his jab is a real weapon. When he gets it going, it hurts people.
“They say the jab’s a range finder, but he uses it to hurt opponents. He can take you out at any time, and I think he’ll hurt this guy. He’s looked good since he started working with Shane [McGuigan], and the Martin Murray fight was one of his better performances. I think he’ll beat Gutknecht. He’ll stop him, and it’ll be a good fight.”
Tickets are still available for Friday night’s action, and can be purchased from http://www.axs.com/uk/events/326050/championship-boxing-groves-v-gutknecht-tickets?skin=wembley starting from £40.00.