Could Ireland have a new world champion on Saturday?
Irish boxing fans will be watching with nervous anticipation on Saturday as highly rated Carl Frampton goes up against IBF super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez.
The unbeaten Belfast fighter, who is nicknamed ‘the Jackal’, is the most promising prospect in Irish boxing for several years.
If he beats Martinez he will become the first Irish born fighter to win a major world title fight since Bernard Dunne over five years ago. Dunne defeated WBA super bantamweight champion Ricardo Cordoba in 2009, but lost his first defence.
Northern Irish super middleweight fighter Brian Magee was crowned WBA world champion in 2012, but he was promoted from interim champion rather than winning a title fight. Like Dunne, Magee lost his first title defence.
While Dunne and Magee did themselves proud throughout careers that saw them reach world level, Frampton is hotly tipped to shine brighter than either and really leave a lasting mark on his era. It is hoped that he can add his name to the list of Irish boxing greats such as Steve Collins and Barry McGuigan, who is now Frampton’s manager.
So much is hoped of Frampton that a new 16,000 capacity arena has been built in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast specifically for this world title fight. He had previously had a number of fights at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena but with an 8,700 capacity it was no longer big enough to cope with demand for tickets for his fights.
The 27-year-old said: “It’s a bit of an understatement to say I’m looking forward to it. Getting a world title fight at home, at such an historic venue, a stadium being built for me, it’s what dreams are made of.”
The fight will also be broadcast in Ireland, the UK, The USA, China, Japan, South America and the Middle East.
The signs are good for Frampton on Saturday. He has already beaten Martinez, stopping the Spaniard in the 9th round in February last year.
However, Martinez hasn’t looked back since that night. He has knocked out his last four opponents, including three world champions, and picked up the IBF title in the process.
Meanwhile, Frampton has been left frustrated. He has been unable to get the biggest match ups as the top fighters in the division are seemingly only too aware of what a threat he poses.
Martinez is a tough fighter and feels he has a score to settle. He is keen to avenge his loss to Frampton and is willing to put his title on the line.
It means the Jackal will finally get his chance to show what he is made of and become Ireland’s newest worldwide sports star.
Frampton said: “This is the world title fight I’ve spent 20 years working towards. It’s hard to believe I was just seven when I started boxing but I’ve put everything of myself into it. So this is going to be a huge night and it’s why I want to win so much.”
It promises to be a fascinating contest with both men 100% confident that they will be victorious.
It will be Frampton’s biggest fight to date. A win will see his popularity reach fever pitch and open the door to some huge match ups in the future.
Fans will be hoping that Saturday will see the beginning of a long journey for a new Irish superstar.