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What next for Carl Frampton - rematch or retire?

Carl faces big decision on his future after defeat by Warrington in ‘best fight ever’

Hard fought: Carl Frampton (right) and Josh Warrington exchange blows in Manchester on Saturday night
Hard fought: Carl Frampton (right) and Josh Warrington exchange blows in Manchester on Saturday night
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Josh Warrington's dad and coach, Sean O'Hagan, says he would be willing to agree to a rematch with Carl Frampton after their fight-of-the-year encounter in the Manchester Arena - if the Jackal decides to fight on.

Frampton and Warrington engaged in an epic battle on Saturday night which legendary promoter Frank Warren described as "the best fight ever staged in a British ring", with Warrington deservedly winning the IBF world featherweight title on a unanimous decision. It has left the Belfast man pondering whether it is time to call it a day after almost 10 years as a professional.

Former world super-bantamweight and featherweight champion Frampton (31) says he will now give himself time to reflect on the second loss of his career. "I have a young family and I have been in this game a long time so I'll sit down and see what I do next," said Frampton.

Warrington’s coach dad O’Hagan insisted that he believed the 31-year-old could come again and down the line engage in a second battle with his son who now has WBO champion Oscar Valdez in his sights.

“I’ve no doubt that Carl can come back. He’s a world class fighter and he is worthy of a re-match, no doubt about it. I would be more than willing to give him a re-match,” said O’Hagan, whose grandfather came from the Falls Road.

“I said before that I have always been a fan of Carl Frampton and I told him after the fight that I took no pleasure in this win. I take professional pleasure but no personal pleasure because he’s a great lad and a Belfast man and I’m very proud of my Irish roots.

“I go back regularly to Belfast but I’m not so sure I’ll be that popular now going back there. But look it was a great fight between two great warriors.”

Frampton, meanwhile, must now reflect on whether or not he has the desire and the resources to put himself through the rigours of training to push for another world title shot as he remains one of the most marketable fighters in the world — and his old rival Leo Santa Cruz may now be more willing to give him that re-match he has craved for the past two years.

After such a brutal 36 minutes of unrelenting action, it is clear that Frampton will require a long rest to allow his body to recover and at the same time clearly think through whether or not it is time to leave the sport behind.

“I lost fair and square, there’s no excuses from me. I was in great shape and the better man won. I was fit and strong but Josh was fitter and stronger and that’s the bottom line,” he said.

“I was hurt a number of times and whoever says Josh can’t punch I don’t know what they’re talking about. He was a better puncher than his record suggests.

“I genuinely hope that he goes on to unify the titles and knocks them all out — that will make this performance look even better! He was even better than I thought. He’s clever and he had a brilliant game plan and he is stronger. So now I have to go away and see what my next move is.”

Eddie Hearn’s sharp suited shadow loomed large over Saturday’s Manchester contest.

The rival promoters have, famously, never been able to find the time to speak to one another, and yet Hearn’s Machiavellian move to stage Dillian Whyte’s entertaining if fundamentally unnecessary rematch with Dereck Chisora on the very same night was a direct message to Frank Warren. A blatant and brutal attempt to harm Warren’s first primetime pay-per-view event on BT Sport.

It may yet prove to be a success for Hearn, who impressively packed out the O2 Arena with his show and will be expecting similarly strong PPV numbers, given the strength of the Sky Sports PR machine in his back pocket. But in the hours after Warrington’s title defence, Warren felt confident that he had won the battle, even if he yet loses the individual television war.

“Let me tell you what you need to know about that event,” Warren said in the early hours of Sunday morning, after quizzing reporters on who had won in London — he insisted he had not yet had the opportunity to look. “There is just no comparison between the two events and I am not being disrespectful, but it is what it is.

“Dereck Chisora is not an A List heavyweight fighter, let’s be honest about that. Those days are long gone. He is not that. And to be quite honest, I don’t know whether Dillian Whyte is either. You wouldn’t fancy him against any of the champions.

“But Warrington and Frampton are true A List fighters. They were in a quality fight. I believe that everything happens for a reason and what has happened is that all of the fans are going to be talking about us. About our fight and our show. Because that is British boxing at its best. That is world class boxing.”

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