There comes a time in every sportsman’s career when the stakes soar and for Carl Frampton that is now.
Manager Barry McGuigan knows that the next 12 months may well define the career of ‘The Jackal’ and he is convinced the world will wake up to the full potential of Frampton.
On February 9 at the Odyssey Arena, Frampton takes a huge step along the road to a world title fight when he challenges Spain’s hard hitting Kiko Martinez for the European super-bantamweight title.
Currently doing the hard yards under the watchful eyes of Barry and coach Shane McGuigan, Frampton is honing himself for a battle between two men highly ranked in the world.
The path to a world title fight can have many twists and turns with the IBF and WBC belts seemingly the main focus for Team Frampton and promoter Eddie Hearn whose Odyssey show — selling very well — also features Martin Lindsay challenging for the British featherweight title and Jamie Conlan for the Commonwealth super-fly belt.
“This is going to be a massive year for Carl. I’ve said from the start that he can go to the top and this is the year he will prove to the world just how good he is,” said McGuigan (right).
“This fight with Martinez is going to be a fabulous fight. We know what Martinez is all about, he’ll come looking for Carl — it will be a perfect clash of styles and the fans know it, that’s why the tickets are flying.
“I expect Carl to win and to win in style and I would say that he is one or two fights away from fighting for the world title. After this he could go straight for the world title.
“The IBF title is currently vacant but Alejandro Lopez and Jonathan Romero will fight for the title on February 16. If Carl could get in line for the winner that would be perfect.
“But of course there are other options such as the WBC champion Abner Mares. The top two in the division, Nonito Donaire (WBO champion) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (WBA champion) are talking about moving up so you never know what will transpire.
“But Carl is right in the mix now and a win over Martinez will make the world sit up and take notice.”
Spanish bull Martinez — remembered by Irish fans for his knockout of Bernard Dunne — has hooked up with current middleweight number one and promoter Sergio Martinez, basing himself Stateside for what is just as critical a fight for him as it is for the Belfast man.
It will arguably be the best, most disciplined, preparation Martinez has ever had for a fight, a suggestion that McGuigan concurs with.
“I would say that Martinez will be an even more dangerous opponent now, not because he is suddenly going to be transformed into Sugar Ray Leonard but he will be fitter and sharper and we know that he will be very dangerous, he carries plenty of power.
“But Carl will be ready for that, already he is looking in very good shape — he’s having some great sparring and Shane is making sure that he will be in the best shape possible.
“Sport has moved on so much, the science of training an athlete and that’s where Carl is fortunate to have someone like Shane who knows about these things.
“But the fighter himself has to have the desire as well and Carl has that.
“He knows the discipline that he must have and the more I work with him the more I like him.
“The Odyssey is going to be rocking and I believe they are going to see a special night of boxing. Not just Carl but Martin Lindsay’s fight with Lee Selby is a great fight and you have young Conlan as well boxing for the Commonwealth title.”