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Carl Frampton's finest: Five crucial fights that have propelled the Jackal to the top

By David Kelly

Carl Frampton is primed for the biggest night of his boxing life on Saturday when he challenges Kiko Martinez for the IBF World super-bantamweight title at Titanic Quarter and getting to this point has been an exciting ride for the Belfast man.

Our boxing correspondent David Kelly examines the five fights, in order of date, that have been crucial in the Jackal's rise from novice professional to World title contender.

1. Sandor Szinavel (Pro debut) June 12, 2009 Won rsc2

Frampton's professional career started with him forgetting his gumshield, leading to manager Barry McGuigan dashing back to the hotel to retrieve the necessary armour for his debut at the Olympia arena in Liverpool.

While Barry felt the stress and strain, Carl remained cool and calm.

"He was almost too calm, I thought," recalls Barry. "But he went in and did the business and even though it was a journeyman it was the way he went about it, the way he won was so impressive."

Frampton measured up his opponent in the opening round and then delivered a wicked onslaught to stop him at two minutes and three seconds of the second round.

His career was up and running in emphatic fashion, just the start any professional would have wanted.

2. Robbie Turley (Celtic title fight) June 6, 2010 Won on pts

This was Carl's first 10 rounder and a fight he was expected to shine in but despite chalking up a 10th straight victory on points against the Welshman in Cardiff, the Belfast man wasn't as sharp as he had hoped.

While he won most of the rounds, Carl knew that certain things had to change and it was after this fight that he fully bought into Shane McGuigan's training regime, including the Caveman diet which now has him honed to perfection.

Complacency had played its part as well in the ragged performance. "It's a mistake I will never make again, you can't take anyone for granted," he says.

Lessons learned, it proved to be a critical fight in making the Belfast man a true force in the super-bantamweight division.

3. Raul Hirales (IBF inter-continental super-bantamweight title) May 26, 2012 Won on pts12

This was Carl's first 12-rounder and he has admitted to being a little concerned about going the full distance but by the end he had 100 per cent belief in his engine.

Hirales was a smart, solid boxer who was Carl's best opponent to this point but the Jackal refused to fall into his traps and on this night at the Nottingham Arena, he showed everyone just how well he can box.

Despite controlling the action with his smart footwork and boxing skills, the Sky television commentators were less than complimentary – unlike five-weight World champion Sugar Ray Leonard, who lauded the display when commentating for American television.

Carl was now in the IBF's top 15 and moving steadily into the World title scene. "At the end of that fight I knew I had so much more in the tank," said Carl.

4. Kiko Martinez (European title fight) February 9, 2013 Won tko9

This was the night at the Odyssey Arena when the Northern Ireland boxing fans came out to see if Carl was the real deal on the World stage and he delivered in a pulsating duel.

Martinez, the defending champion, came with a reputation for being a very hard puncher – and was known to the Irish fans as he had already knocked out former World champion Bernard Dunne.

Carl's chin was going to be tested and it passed the acid test on a night when he handled the expectations of a big crowd and mixed his boxing with solid power shots.

There was little between the two in many of the rounds, though Carl nevertheless looked ahead in the fight when he unloaded a rapier right hand which brought the end at 2:46 of round nine.

5. Hugo Cazares (WBC World title final eliminator) April 4, 2014 Won tko2

After the disappointment of not being able to secure a World title fight with Kiko, despite winning an eliminator in his previous fight, a sixth round stoppage of Jeremy Parodi, Carl had to step up and defeat two-time World champion Cazares.

Current WBC champion Leo Santa Cruz was the target for both men and Cazares insisted that his experience would be too much for the "protected" Belfast man but he and the 9,000 in the Odyssey were in for a shock. Carl blasted out of the blocks, his footwork better than ever and he dismantled Cazares in brutal fashion – stopping him in less than five minutes with his hammer blows.

Usually a quick win like that would lead to some boos echoing across the arena but the Jackal fans knew they had witnessed a world class performance... now they are hoping for a similar display on Saturday.

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