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Frampton v Donaire: Carl driven by the desire to leave the ring with a golden legacy

 

By David Kelly

The journey is far from over for Carl Frampton - he insists there are more jewels to be unearthed so he can leave behind a golden, lasting legacy.

The Belfast man has already enjoyed a fine career, making history as the first Northern Ireland boxer to unify two of the major titles when campaigning at super-bantamweight. That was followed up with an historic night in New York when becoming the first to win world titles at two different weights.

All the stars seemed to be aligned until that frustrating night in Las Vegas in January 2017 when Leo Santa Cruz wrenched the WBA World featherweight title back from his grasp.

From that point on it has largely been a time of discomfort for the Jackal. A cancelled fight last summer was followed by the split from manager Barry McGuigan and then a return to the ring in November when for the first time in his career he received some criticism that still carries a little sting.

Essentially, the legacy he carves was in cold storage but this evening at the SSE Arena, Frampton intends to have that flame burning as brightly as ever.

Nonito Donaire is one of those names that every fighter would want to have on his record. World fighter of the year, champion in four weight classes and pound for pound one of the very best of his generation.

At 35 many may feel he is slightly past his best but he nevertheless offer the barometer as to where Frampton is on the road back to world title status and the status he desires.

"Legacy is one of those things driving me on as well as security for my family and the doubters are one of the main driving forces as well," said Frampton.

"I want to be remembered as a great fighter. I want to be able to go into a pub in 30 years time and have people remember what I did and hopefully that I did my country proud and gave people some nights they will have never forgotten.

"I remember one time being with my dad when I was a young kid and I met Freddie Gilroy, the former British and European champion. My dad made sure that I sat on Freddie's knee and got a picture taken because Freddie was an Irish boxing legend, he had left a legacy behind and I want the same thing. That would be very special for me if I could have some moments like that and to beat Nonito Donaire would be a big part of that legacy because of what he has achieved - he's a future Hall of Famer.

"But also I've been doubted more than ever. If you look at my career, I was super-bantamweight champion, featherweight champion and then I lose a close fight to Leo Santa Cruz when under par and suddenly in the views of some I'm done. Fans and people in general can be fickle… becoming world champion again is a huge thing for me, to hear 'world champion Carl Frampton' and not 'former champion'.

"Donaire is the most accomplished fighter I have ever faced, he's the best foreign fighter to ever come here so it would be special to have a win over him on my record. That's one that I would like back on with pride."

Filipino star Donaire, who this week seems to have gleaned for himself some new Belfast fans such is his charismatic demeanour, is even more aware that his days at the top could well be numbered if - as most expect - he is unable to find a vintage performance to derail the Jackal.

"This is a make or break fight for me. To have such a great opponent in front of me such as Carl is a great motivation and I feel it will bring out the best in me," said Donaire.

"Carl is easily one of the of the top three featherweights in the world and I know if beat him then I will fight for a world title. Throughout my career I've won everything, all the belts but I've never been undisputed champion and that's what I want - I want to be the undisputed world featherweight champion."

Having been to the boxing summit, both of these great warriors are entitled to believe they have the resolve and skills to scale those heights once more but this evening reality will come calling and breakfast tomorrow morning will be a sobering moment.

Frampton would appear to be in the right place at the right time to plant his flag at the top of the featherweight mountain, in emphatic fashion.

Belfast Telegraph

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