Carl Frampton planning special show against Jeremy Parodi
Carl Frampton plans to kick off what he expects to be "one of the best weeks of my life" with a special performance at the Odyssey Arena tonight – before then turning his focus to his wedding to fiancé Christine tomorrow week.
"The fans are coming to see a top performance and I want to give it to them, they deserve it. Hopefully I can do the business and not get any black eyes to spoil the wedding photos," said Frampton, a red hot favourite to retain his European super-bantamweight title.
Indeed, when you weigh up his battle with Frenchman Jeremy Parodi from every angle, it is hard to go against the public's expectation of a clinical execution of his skills leaving the Frenchman devoid of hope.
But then, boxing's history is littered with upsets and it is the moment of crisis that a fighter often has to handle on the way to the top that can suddenly turn the best laid plans to dust. The unknown is the only factor European super-bantamweight Frampton has to concern himself with this evening.
One thing is certain, Northern Ireland has not had such a well-rounded fighter to roar on for many a year. There have been punchers fragile around the chin, fine boxers but with little power and some who wasted golden talent with a reckless lifestyle. Take a long hard look at Frampton and he is ticking the majority of the boxes needed to become a World champion in one of the sport's most exciting divisions.
His boxing ability, under-estimated by many, has been there since his amateur days under the guidance of Midland coach Billy McKee and if you needed an example of the punching power he possesses then his dismantling of Kiko Martinez proved it.
He has also, by way of his personality and exciting style, become a hit at the box office but every sportsman is looking to hone their skills and Frampton has been solidly developing his work at close range – a skill so many these days coming out of the amateur ranks lack. Don't be surprised if his inside work comes to the fore tonight when Parodi is inevitably drawn into toe-to-toe exchanges.
The Frenchman is a good European fighter and is worthy of his challenge for the EBU title with only a solitary defeat in 37 fights and an International Boxing Federation ranking of four but tonight we should see the difference between a potential world champion and someone short of that mark.
The expectation on Frampton could hardly be higher, on the back of that knockout of Martinez who has since gone on to win the IBF World title and many sportsmen have found such pressure simply suffocating but the Belfast man is adamant that he will relish the sold-out, inaugural Cyclone Promotions show.
"I've seen how fighting at The King's Hall gave Barry a huge advantage for some of the big fights during his career. Hopefully, The Odyssey can develop into something similar for me," said Frampton, who admits that he handles the pre-fight build-up in a different way to mentor and promoter McGuigan.
"I think I'm the opposite to Barry, he liked to be isolated from his family but I like to have contact with Christine and Carla. I'm in a very happy place with my career, my family and now I'm getting married.
"Most of the stuff around the wedding is done. I'm not that nervous now but I'm sure I will be once the fight is out of the way.
"I think I'll be more nervous about the best man's speech of Paddy Barnes than my fight with Parodi!"
Eight months without a fight has been the only downside for Frampton in 2013, the British Boxing Board of Control's decision to refuse him permission to box in July due to a perforated ear drum issue – that was given the all-clear by a specialist – still rankles but he is adamant that it will have no bearing on tonight's outcome.
"Kiko was at his best against me yet I thoroughly outboxed him before knocking him out which shows you the level I'm at. And since then, I've improved too.
"I've effectively had a 16 week camp since the summer and, in that time, I've become a far better fighter up close, slipping and blocking shots in the pocket.
"I've been hurting some much bigger guys in sparring."
Frampton sounds and looks every inch a champion and Parodi – never previously on the canvas as an amateur or professional – should be made fully aware of the Belfast man's potential by the sixth round.