Saturday 19 January 2019

Frampton masterclass opens up Valdez option

Carl Frampton lands a punch on Nonito Donaire during their WBO Interim World Featherweight bout in Belfast. Photo: Getty Images
Carl Frampton lands a punch on Nonito Donaire during their WBO Interim World Featherweight bout in Belfast. Photo: Getty Images

Steve Bunce

The old magic was back on Saturday night in Belfast when Carl Frampton boxed glorious rings round Nonito Donaire in a flawless display that often resembled choreography.

Little Carl fell out of love with boxing last year when his first defeat rattled him and several hostile calamities away from the ring looked like putting an early end to his career.

"It's been a hard time," admitted Frampton, who has a court case with his former promoter, Barry McGuigan, looming. "I needed my best, I had to be sharp - it was a simple display, I had to be disciplined in every round."

Boxers in similar circumstances often fall terribly short when they are fighting for their lives with a head full of awful distractions.

The Belfast boxer put on a masterclass in front of his devoted flock to end any doubts about his future, any suggestions his best nights are over and any wild notion that he is an easy touch for anybody.

During the last decade Donaire has been one of the sport's finest tiny battlers, holding versions of world titles at five different weights and dazzling often enough in big fights to secure a legacy during his career. "Carl is a great fighter, smarter than I thought and it was an honour to share the ring with him," said Donaire, who confirmed he will drop back down in weight.

"Carl is like a wall, man, so tough - that shocked me."

Frampton insisted he had a new friend for life - it was a rare and humbling experience to watch the pair in the solitude of their dressing rooms swapping tender embraces.

Once the fight started Frampton's feet often moved with such controlled beauty, his fists then slotted perfectly behind the gloves Donaire offered as leather resistance.

The fighting was seamless, finding a lovely rhythm from distance and up close - a spot boxers call the "pocket" - and each connected on exposed targets in textbook exchanges. It was a joy to watch from my privileged position at ringside.

Donaire, at 35 but still looking 21, was a dangerous opponent from the first until the last bell and in round 11 staggered Frampton, who fell forward, hurt and stumbling for a second or two.

It was quality boxing and the decision, wide for Frampton, confirmed the masterclass, an expression used too often and lazily in a sport now dominated by far too many one-dimensional but popular power punchers; a night of purity is always a delight.

Frampton held world titles at super-bantamweight and featherweight and beating Donaire means he gets another shot, at home again, when he fills Windsor Park in August.

The world title fight will happen, it will be sold out instantly and the opponent will be named in the next 28 days.

"That was class tonight," said promoter Frank Warren. "I will get him a world title fight - there are options and I will deliver. Carl and the city deserve it."

Frampton - then under the guidance of Barry McGuigan - claimed the WBO's interim featherweight title, a temporary belt because Oscar Valdez, the full champion, has a broken jaw and is unable to fight. a fit Valdez is an August option.

Elsewhere, another world-title shot is one of Amir Khan's chief priorities following his all-too-predictable comeback in Liverpool when he knocked out Phil Lo Greco in just 39 seconds.

Independent News Service

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