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Fired-up Frampton keen to end awful year on high note


By Anthony Gunning

The promise of a big summer showdown at Windsor Park next year is on the horizon for Carl Frampton as he prepares to start the next leg of his career on familiar ground at the SSE Arena on November 18.

The Jackal was officially unveiled as a Frank Warren fighter at yesterday's Ulster Hall press conference, where he was flanked by new trainer Jamie Moore.

The 30-year-old Tigers Bay man announced his decision to link-up with Warren at the weekend, citing the promise of a big fight at the National Stadium and the opportunity to be the leading light for boxing on BT Sport as major factors for his decision.

With MTK Global also part of the new set-up in an advisory role, Frampton will return to action for the first time since his narrow loss to Leo Santa Cruz in January in the Jackal's Den against an opponent yet to be confirmed, and he is delighted to get the chance to do what he does best following the ill-fated Andres Gutierrez fight that never was back in July.

"I'm very excited. First of all, it's great to be back in Belfast," said Frampton.

"The last fight didn't happen for whatever reason, but I'm just looking forward to repaying the fans for supporting me.

"The dream of mine is to box in Windsor Park and obviously you need the right time of year to be able to do that. That would be the end of spring or summertime next year.

"I know that Frank and MTK will be able help me get that. It's going to be a huge thing for myself. It's what I have dreamed of since I was a kid, to box at Windsor, and I will finally be able to do that."

WBO champion and Michael Conlan stablemate Oscar Valdez said he would be keen on a Frampton showdown in 2018 following his successful defence against Genesis Servania at the weekend, while Lee Selby (IBF) and Gary Russell Jnr (WBC) remain options going forward, but the ideal future opponent for Frampton would be the man who took the WBA belt back off him in Las Vegas in January.

"Santa Cruz is the fight I want because I feel I have a score to settle," he stressed.

"You also have Selby, Gary Russell, Oscar Valdez and even Josh Warrington who is a BT fighter, so there are potentially a lot of huge fights for me, but we'll get those boys in the fight after next."

For now there is a job to be done on November 18, with the identity of the man in the opposite corner to be revealed in the near future.

"At the stage I'm at now it can't be a mug," he continued.

"It needs to be a credible opponent, but I'm looking to get the big boys next year.

"I want to put the last year behind me. It has been a disastrous year for myself. I lost my first fight and everything else that has gone on, so I want to get back to winning ways. I just need to get a win, put the last year behind me and move on."

With his team now settled, Frampton is back in the gym preparing for his eagerly-awaited return with Mancunian Moore the man in his corner.

A former Irish champion, Moore said there is not a great deal he needs to change with his new charge, but is of the opinion that less can be more in the gym.

"I have been there and know what it's like to be a 30-year-old fighter who has picked up injuries," he said.

"He can't train like a 24 or 25-year-old, he doesn't need to.

"At that stage, you are building an engine. By the time you're 30, the engine's built. You don't need to keep pushing and pushing.

"From what I can gather he's been fighting tired yet still performing, so can you imagine what he is going to be like when he is fresh, eager and enjoying himself?

"I would be offending Carl Frampton if I tried to change him too much. All I need to do is sharpen his tools, get him right fitness-wise and make sure he makes the weight, then set the tactics with plans A, B and C."

In recent months, Frampton spoke of his intention to retire in the next couple of years, but the change has rekindled a flame and he believes there could be some time to go yet with a move up in weight a possibility, but not right now.

"Last year I was constantly talking about the day that I will retire, but now I am enjoying my boxing again," he confirmed.

"I was telling the missus when I turn 32 I will be out, but the way I'm feeling I could go onto 35. I believe I have another world title in me."

Warren announced that Zolani Tete and Belfast man Paddy Barnes will also feature on the undercard of the November 18 programme.

South Africa's Tete will defend his WBO World bantamweight title, while Barnes will defend his WBO European flyweight crown for the first time since his majority decision victory over Silviu Olteanu.

"It's great. The way Carl fills out the Odyssey is a brilliant spectacle and I'm honoured to be able to fight on a double World title card that Carl's on too," Barnes said.

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