It didn’t take Steve Molitor long to realise he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like an old mongoose cornered by a ravenous rattlesnake — or even a jackal — his time would be short.
The two-time World champion had come to the Odyssey Arena believing he still had enough to reach for the mountain top but instead found himself caught in a Carl Frampton vortex, the oxygen of his career sucked away almost from the first exchanges.
Frampton had come to make a statement of world intent and while Molitor’s best days were behind him, the 25-year-old from Tiger’s Bay made British viewers and those in the States watching live on ESPN sit up and take notice of his talent when he cut down the Canadian at 2:21 of the sixth round.
The excitement didn’t end in the ring as a jubilant promoter Eddie Hearn later spoke of his plans to stage Frampton’s summer World title shot at Seaview, the home of Frampton’s favourite team Crusaders — whose captain Colin Coates along with Paddy Barnes carried one of the two belts he defended to the ring on Saturday night, flanked by England cricket star Freddie Flintoff.
A top ten world ranking is now guaranteed and the world title talk will no doubt continue to simmer, but the 12-month time frame of Hearn and manager Barry McGuigan makes sense as it is one of the hottest divisions in world boxing and timing — as we saw with Molitor — is everything.
“That's me Barry, I'm finished,” sighed southpaw Molitor, an acceptance that his time had passed and a new young warrior was the one to move on to the world stage.
Commonwealth champion Frampton simply sizzled from the opening bell and within 30 seconds he had speared his opponent with a right hand. The volume of punches and sharp footwork at close range were simply overwhelming for the 32-year-old.
The concern was evident in Molitor's corner at the end of the second round and in the third he was shook up by a right and then floored and driven through the ropes by a quick one-two just as the bell sounded.
Frampton was now bullying the Canadian, forcing him to slide along the ropes before dropping him again with his right hand.
All the fight was taken out of this proud battler and he just sank to his knees at the end of the conclusive assault at 2:21 of the sixth round.
“I know the critics will say Molitor was shot but I don't know how shot he was. The plan was to keep a high pace and to stay on and it worked,” said Frampton.
“The atmosphere was great, and when you have him going and you have the crowd baying for blood, they’re on your back and it helps you get over the line.
“I knew I was hurting him. You get the feeling when someone doesn’t want to be in there and I knew he didn’t.
“I’d like to get a fight in December but if that doesn’t happen I’ll understand if it's January. I'm used to training over Christmas because of boxing in the All Irelands.”
Hearn and McGuigan are expected to meet this week to discuss the next stage for Frampton, which could be a date Stateside before this Christmas.
Hearn said: “I'd like to go down the route of becoming mandatory challenger because I don’t want Carl tied down to a five-fight option deal to another promoter in America. I expect Carl will now be in the top five of the IBF and he may even get a world title offer or at least be offered a final eliminator for the World title.”
Manager McGuigan was naturally bubbling over with enthusiasm and pondered how his protege compared to him.
“I think he’s equally as good as me at the same stage of my career and I say that because we’re only at the run-in to big title fights. For single punch power he hits harder than me.
“I could fight coming forward but not going back and he can do both,” said McGuigan.
“I think he’ll be ready for the world title after another two fights. Nobody else has done that to Steve Molitor.”
Meanwhile, Brian Magee will face Mikkel Kessler on December 8 for the vacant WBA super-middle title in Denmark.