Carl Frampton not happy despite title defence
I didn't deliver knockout performance: Champ
World champion Carl Frampton says he will head home to Belfast today with "mixed emotions" after his gritty successful defence of his IBF super-bantamweight crown on his American debut, writes David Kelly.
Frampton, unlike some fighters, is prepared to take criticism on the chin when it is justified and to some degree is his toughest critic. So, although the Belfast man was a clear unanimous points winner after hitting the canvas twice in the opening round against Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez jr on Saturday afternoon in El Paso's Don Haskins Centre, he accepts it was not quite the display he had expected.
"I got the win which was the most important thing but it wasn't the explosive performance I wanted. I set myself high standards, I always do and I did for this fight. I'm disappointed but the TV guys around here seem to be very happy because it was exciting," said Frampton, who connected with 245 punches to the 146 landed by the 22-year-old challenger.
"So, I'm flying home with mixed emotions. I'll maybe cheer up in a day or two but getting dropped was the most shocking moment of my career."
While Frampton admitted to losing too much weight in the days leading to his American debut, the 28-year-old felt that his inability to let his punches flow with their natural potency was more to do with the canvas.
"The thing is I need to use my feet to get my power. I just couldn't use them. The ring wasn't in our favour. It was soft, it was a massive ring. There's an inch and a half of foam under the ring. It was just ridiculous. I couldn't get on my toes. It was so soft. Obviously that maybe played a part in the knockdowns. I couldn't move my legs.
"I had to lose a lot of weight in the last day and the day of the weigh-in, a lot more than I expected. It's never that good to have to do that. We'll just have to re-evaluate now and see where we go, whether I need to move up to featherweight. I don't want to tell you exactly what I had to take off over the last few days but it was a lot of weight. It means we will have to seriously consider moving to featherweight."
The issues of the ring canvas and the champion's weight left him unable to come up with the kind of quality work which dispensed Chris Avalos at the Odyssey Arena in February and so combination punching was rare as he sought to corner the Mexican.
"I was just trying to pot-shot with him pretty much. I couldn't get them big punches off, I couldn't get them going.
"Gonzalez, though, deserves credit, he was a lot better than I thought. But I came out here and I wanted to win, I wanted to win impressively and I didn't do that. But I showed excitement.
"People will probably tune in next time. Whether they'll want me to win or lose I don't know but they'll tune in to watch me.
"If you want to take the positives then I guess you could say that I responded well to the knockdowns.
"I came back and and showed heart. I'm proud of that."
Meanwhile, WBC super-bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz - who could be a future opponent of Frampton next year - was at ringside to witness the victory. Santa Cruz faces Abner Mares at featherweight on August 29 and the winner would be a natural opponent for Frampton over St Patrick's Day weekend in New York, which is a target for Cyclone Promotions.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Santa Cruz said: "Carl's a great fighter. He showed great skills, everything. He's a real champion.
"Alejandro is a tough fighter, he hits hard. He got him with a good shot and dropped him. But Carl got up and won the fight. It surprised me that he got dropped like that. I didn't think he was going to be dropped but this is boxing. Sometimes, you're just surprised. That's why you have to be careful and confident, why you have to go out there and be smart. But I saw nothing to fear. I'm here to fight the best. Not to fear. The better they look, the more I want to fight them."