The old Frampton is coming back against Nonito Donaire, vows Carl
Carl Frampton believes his reignited passion for boxing will see him enjoy a year to remember.
The Jackal admits that he was falling out of love with the sport and counting the days to retirement for some time but over the past six months says his love of the ring has started to burn brightly once more.
The two-weight world champion is plotting his way back to another title shot and a victory over legend Nonito Donaire on April 21 in the SSE Arena will seal such an opportunity in the summer.
Last year Frampton went through the upset of losing his WBA world featherweight title and then a split from manager Barry McGuigan and his Cyclone Promotions outfit before returning to the ring in November for a 10-round points win over Mexican Horacio Garcia in the SSE Arena in November.
It was a win that Frampton, who turns 31 today, says "blew off the cobwebs" and now he must prepare for an altogether more threatening proposition in the shape of four-weight champion Donaire.
"He's a brilliant fighter and I'm expecting the best Nonito Donaire there has been," Frampton said. "I'll need to be at my best, and I think with the way I'm feeling at the gym at the minute, you are going to see the old Carl Frampton back again."
Frampton says facing the winner of IBF featherweight world champion Lee Selby's May 19 clash with Josh Warrington is "definitely one option" for after the Donaire contest.
Regarding a third meeting with big rival Leo Santa Cruz -who meets Abner Mares on June 9 - Frampton said: "It kind of has to happen. That fight is always going to be there. Everyone knows I'm desperate for that fight. But I think he needs to show the same amount of interest I am and give the boxing fans what they want to see."
Having linked up with new coach Jamie Moore and promoter Frank Warren, Frampton says this has given him a fresh spark in his approach to the sport.
Frampton added: "I think potentially this could be the best year of my career. Obviously 2017 wasn't great, but it finished on a high with the win. I've changed teams and overhauled everything that was going on behind the scenes and I feel better for it.
"Kicking it off in 2018 with Nonito Donaire, potentially a fight at Windsor Park in the summer, and then maybe squeezing another one in before Christmas - that is a very good year.
"I was saying I had 32 in my head as a retirement age because I wasn't enjoying boxing at the time, but now I am. I've been involved in boxing 23 years and this is the most I've enjoyed it.
"This gym is brilliant. I love it. The camaraderie is great. I think Jamie is very knowledgeable. I'm not saying my old trainer's approach was bad, but Jamie has a different approach, very tactical.
"It's a different approach to what I was used to before, and I feel at this stage of my career it is going to benefit me."
• Former world middleweight champion Andy Lee has announced his retirement from boxing.
The 33-year-old from Limerick boxed at the 2004 Olympics before launching his career as a professional, moving to Detroit to link up with trainer Manny Steward at the Kronk Gym.
After ten years in the paid ranks, the big-punching southpaw finally got his hands on a world belt when he beat Russian Matt Korobov to claim the WBO world middleweight championship in 2014.
Meanwhile, Callum Smith will fight Dutchman Nieky Holzken in Saturday's World Boxing Super Series semi-final after Juergen Braehmer withdrew due to influenza.