Belfast Telegraph

Battling Frampton ready to take on the world

By David Kelly

In the rush to welcome a new star it can all too often be assumed that the road must be pockmarked with bloody battles. Carl Frampton’s shrewd performance on Saturday night demonstrated that here’s a young man who will not succumb to such folly.

Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan was known for his front foot all-out assaults, but his protégé is a different beast and the former World champion knows it. Whether it’s on the back foot or at close quarters, the 25-year-old from Tigers Bay is at ease.

Mexican Rual Hirales was brought to the Nottingham Arena as a significant step up in class, an unbeaten fighter with a good chin, but from early on he was left bemused as the Belfast man refused to play to the script. Hirales wanted a toe-to-toe battle, but was given a lesson in the art of war.

Frampton, the Commonwealth champion, skilfully picked up the IBF inter-continental super-bantam belt with a unanimous points decision — 120-108, 119-109, 119-109 — as he boxed off the back foot, drawing in the Mexican and clipping him at will.

Then, having dominated from distance, in the last three rounds he took a step in to show off his power and Hirales — particularly in the 11th round — was visibly hurt by the Jackal’s short hooks to body and head.

While some may have wanted to see more thrills and spills — including Hirales — Frampton and his team know that when the time comes he will be fresh and strong enough to handle such a night.

Yes, Frampton could have stepped up his volume of punching from the middle rounds and possibly stopped Hirales, but it cannot be overlooked that he made the Mexican, ranked 15 in the World, look decidedly average.

“I just couldn’t handle his style,” muttered Hirales through an interpreter before trudging out.

Frampton will now look ahead to a severe test on September 8 at either the Odyssey Arena or King’s Hall with European champion Kiko Martinez back on the radar.

Manager McGuigan said: “We’re hoping now that Martinez can sort out his managerial issues and that the fight will go ahead on September 8. If not, we have two or three top class opponents in place — whatever happens Carl will be in a big fight, a European title fight or a World title eliminator.

“I thought he was brilliant on Saturday night. We had a gameplan and he boxed to it perfectly. He has the boxing brain and the power to go right to the top. We had wanted fights with Scott Quigg or Rendall Munroe but they are now behind us, we’re moving on.”

Frampton is relishing the prospect of returning home for the biggest fight of his career having in effect booked his spot in the IBF’s World top-10 with victory over Hirales.

“A big fight in Belfast is what I have always wanted and that’s the plan and if it’s Kiko Martinez then great — it’s a fight the Belfast public want to see,” said Frampton, who after only 14 fights remains an exciting work in progress.

“I was really pleased with how I boxed, Gerry Storey and Shane McGuigan had worked out the tactics for me and they went perfectly. I suppose I could have applied more pressure earlier on, but it was my first 12 rounder and I was conscious of that. At at the end I could have fought on quite easily.

“For those people who wondered what would happen if someone tried to put me on the back foot, now they know I can box as well as fight.”

Let’s hope Frampton’s potent mix will be tested by Spaniard Martinez in September — a mouthwatering prospect — as he now looks truly ready for such an examination.

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Carl Froch fears he may have ended Lucian Bute's career after delivering a “devastating beating” which crowned him a three-time world champion while crushing his opponent's unbeaten record.

Froch snatched Bute's IBF super-middleweight title with a superb fifth-round stoppage in Nottingham on Saturday night and is now contracted to travel to Canada, where Romanian Bute is based, to defend the belt in a rematch.

However, the 34-year-old believes Bute may never fight again, let alone step into the ring for a second dose.

He said: “Personally I don't think Bute will want the rematch because as a fighter, I looked into his eyes and after round three I saw something drain from him. Something only a fighter can see.

“I don't think he's going to want to fight again, let alone fight me again.”

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