Congratulations to Carl Frampton from all of us at Ireland Calling.
The Belfast boxer, nicknamed ‘the Jackal’, kicked off a great weekend for Irish sport by beating Spanish star Kiko Martinez to become IBF super bantamweight champion of the world.
It was Frampton’s first attempt at a world title, which can be a daunting enough task for any athlete. For Frampton, the pressure was even greater as there was the small matter of a 16,000 capacity stadium being built in his home city especially for this fight.
His fans and his city had shown a lot of faith in him and he lived up to the occasion by producing the performance of his life.
Frampton had previously beaten Martinez, but the Spaniard had come on leaps and bounds since their first fight, beating three former world champions in just over a year.
However, Frampton cemented his superiority by dominating the fight. He put in a classy display, including a knockdown in the 5th round, to earn a well-deserved unanimous decision victory.
Frampton dedicated his victory to his grandfather who recently passed away.
Frampton is managed by Irish boxing legend Barry McGuigan. After the fight McGuigan said: “He’s twice the fighter I was. He’s going to be something really special.”
It was a historic night for Irish sport and the setting was suitably iconic. The new stadium was built in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter with the huge Titanic building glistening in the background.
Frampton became the first Irish world champion for over half a decade and can now look forward to some huge nights in the next year or so.
He will have to fight mandatory challenger Chris Avalos first. Should Frampton win that fight, as he is very much expected to, he will become the first Irishman to successfully defend a world title since Celtic Warrior Steve Collins 17 years ago.
After Avalos, Frampton will be able to get on with some real big money fights.
After the fight Frampton said: “The only man I want to fight is Scott Quigg, I’ll fight him in Manchester, I’ll fight him anywhere.”
McGuigan couldn’t resist taunting Quigg saying: “Scott Quigg will draw 800 people in Bury (Quigg’s hometown, near Manchester). We had to build an arena to fit in all Carl Frampton’s fans.”
This would be the fight most fans would like to see first. Quigg is in many ways Frampton’s English counterpart. Both are unbeaten, both claim to have been avoided by the top fighters in the super bantamweight division and importantly, both are now world champions.
A matchup between Frampton and Quigg would generate huge interest amongst sports fans in the Irish and British isles. Quigg is fighting next week against little known fighter Stephane Jamoye after former world champion Paulus Ambunda pulled out. He is headlining the night at Manchester’s 21,000 capacity MEN arena, which somewhat dampens McGuigan’s taunt. However, it does give a good indication of how big a fight between Frampton and Quigg could be.
However, Quigg is by no means Frampton’s only big money option. Mexican fighter Leo Santa Cruz is also unbeaten and is the WBC super bantamweight champion. He is a well-known boxer in the USA and is fighting in Las Vegas next week on superstar Floyd Mayweather’s undercard.
A fight with Santa Cruz would really open doors into the lucrative American market for Frampton.
If Frampton can beat both Quigg and Santa Cruz in the next 12 months he will have the experience and the status to take on the most feared man in the division, Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux is Cuban and is one of the slickest fighters in the world. He is virtually impossible to hit and possesses huge knockout power. He has previously beaten Irish European champion Willie Casey and is the current WBA (super) and WBO world champion.
Frampton is likely to take on Quigg and Santa Cruz before setting his sights on Rigondeaux. If he can eventually beat the Cuban he will go down as one of the best Irish boxers of all time.
Ireland’s great sporting weekend continued yesterday. The All-Ireland hurling final saw a classic match between Tipperary and Kilkenny end in a nail-biting draw. Meanwhile, both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland soccer teams got their European qualifiers off to a perfect start with away wins at Georgia and Hungary respectively.