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Carl Frampton: 'Lose Gutierrez fight and my career could be over'

By Brett Campbell

Carl Frampton told hundreds of his adoring home fans who gathered in Victoria Square to watch him work out yesterday that his career could be over if he doesn't emerge victorious in his "must-win" fight in Belfast on Saturday night.

But he also vowed to show no mercy and seize every opportunity to take down his Mexican opponent - Andres Gutierrez - in the WBC World featherweight title eliminator bout.

"I'll not for a second feel sorry for him in the ring and he won't for me," he said.

"If I get the chance to take him out, I'm not going to take it easy on him just because he's a nice guy - I'm going to put it on him and get rid of him."

The former two-weight division world champion is gearing up for a crucial face-off against the "dangerous" Gutierrez at the SSE Arena and admitted he is feeling the heat.

"This is a must win for me, my career is potentially over if I don't win this fight and that brings pressure, but there's no pressure about fighting in my home city," he said.

"I could have fought in the States and made more money, but the big thing for me was to fight at home, I wanted this.

"I love the people, the atmosphere and the whole build-up - it was important for me to be here."

It's his first fight in Belfast since he beat American Chris Avalos to retain his world title in February 2015, and his first time getting back in the ring since his devastating loss of the world title at the hands of Leo Santa Cruz just six months ago in Las Vegas.

"I'm in a good place and I'm ready to go. It took me a while to get over it, but I sat down and evaluated everything and was able to put it into perspective," he said.

"I got beaten by a three-weight world champion. I had a bad night and he boxed out of his skin - it was close, but I think the right man won the fight."

The Tiger's Bay boxer promised to come back stronger than ever to win more world titles.

"I want to box in big fights home and away. I've tasted big nights in Vegas and New York and I liked it," he said.

The father-of-two, who has been training hard in London in preparation for the big fight, said he is motivated by his wife Christine and their children, and has enjoyed spending more time with them as a result of fighting in Belfast.

"I was able to come home most weekends, I like to spend as much time with the kids and Christine as I possibly can," he explained.

"I'm now staying in the Europa Hotel, which allows me to visit them every day. I'm a family man and that's what I like to do."

Looking ahead to Saturday night, the Belfast man insisted he is not taking his opponent for granted.

"He's a good fighter, a hard puncher and he's had more knock-out wins than I've had fights," he said.

"Gutierrez has a good tight defence and it's going to be hard to break through that, but I believe that when I'm on form I'm the best featherweight in the world, I just need to prove that.

"If you were to build a fighter that was the best opponent for me, you'd build Andres Gutierrez - maybe with a little bit less punching power, but this is a perfect opportunity for me to showcase what I've got."

Manager Barry McGuigan told the Belfast Telegraph he is confident of a "blistering performance", which is exactly what Carl needs.

"His opponent is only 24, he's driven, very determined and he's going to seize his opportunities," he added.

"Carl has got to squash him, take that away from him, draw it out off him, out-box and out-punch him. At this level in the sport it's not about winning, it's about how you win."

But Frampton dismissed any notion that his opponent has the advantage of youth on his side.

"I'm 30, which used to be an old age in this sport, but not any more," he said. "My engine has definitely improved, because I would have struggled to go 12 rounds at the age of 24, but now I'm older and much stronger I could do it, no problem."

Gutierrez acknowledged the "great warmth" of Frampton's fans but told this newspaper that he is not intimidated: "I am fighting Frampton - not all of you.

"I am really focused on winning this fight.

"I know Carl is going to come out with everything he's got - he's coming from a losing fight and has to give everything and that means I have to give everything too. It's certainly going to be a great fight."

But Frampton dismissed his comments as bluff. "I don't care what anyone says, all these opponents say the same thing, but the atmosphere definitely affects you, it can add at least 5% to my game.

"When he does something good there is going to be silence, when I land a punch on him there's going to be roars. That has to get to an opponent and I think it will get to him."

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