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Carl Frampton

Michael Conlan should see off Leigh Wood but the fact it’s not for full WBA world title shows the farce that boxing can be

Carl Frampton


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Leigh Wood, promoter Eddie Hearn and Michael Conlan in Belfast

Leigh Wood, promoter Eddie Hearn and Michael Conlan in Belfast

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Michael Conlan en route to his victory over Ionut Baluta

Michael Conlan en route to his victory over Ionut Baluta

©INPHO/Queensbury Promotions

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Leigh Wood, promoter Eddie Hearn and Michael Conlan in Belfast

This Saturday, I expect Michael Conlan to get his hands on the WBA regular featherweight title when he challenges Leigh Wood in Nottingham.

I think it’s crazy that this isn’t for the full version of the WBA title, given Leo Santa Cruz hasn’t defended it in over three years. He gets to go and fight in different weight divisions yet remains the champion.

That just shows the farce this sport can be at times, but I hope the winner goes on to fight Leo.

There are slightly similar overtones with this fight and when I fought Scott Quigg as it’s a big domestic rivalry. I suppose it hasn’t been brewing as long as me and Quigg, but it’s still a big domestic fight.

I think there will be a cracking atmosphere and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

The more I think about it, it’s hard to see past Mick. I think Wood is certainly a puncher, but I just feel Mick’s skills are far superior.

Mick came into the pros off the back of the Olympics and with big backing from Top Rank, so had that bit of fanfare and many people expected him to get to world level, whereas Leigh has had to come up the harder route a bit and bounced back from a few defeats, so I have to give him credit for that.

He beat Can Xu to win the title last time when nobody expected him to do so, but I just feel Mick’s intelligence will be too much for him and I see a fairly decisive points win.

A defeat isn’t the end of the road for either and nobody will be talking of retirement if they lose, but it would be a setback.

We saw what happened recently with Kiko Martinez beating Kid Galahad and becoming a world champion again. This sport has fairytales like that and throws up the odd surprise.

Mick might have to come through a few sticky patches in there at some point, but I just think his superior boxing skills will shine through and that will be enough for him to win.

I’m sure his team have been drilling into his head not to stay on the ropes because Wood hits hard and that could spell trouble.

That’s something he tends to do when not up against punchers and while he has good movement, sometimes he gets caught in that position.

I’d be certain Adam Booth, his dad and Jamie, his brother, will be telling him that when his back gets onto the ropes, get offside.

In terms of who the superior boxer is, that’s Mick and that’s why he wins.

Jake Paul may have answer to judging problems

I’ve never seen as much uproar as that regarding the outcome of last Saturday’s fight between Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall.

Out of courtesy to both guys and my friendship with them, I don’t really want to say much about that fight in particular, but I just feel the standard of refereeing and judging in the UK is atrocious and people are fed up with it.

At the minute, I get the impression that it’s a bit of a boys’ club as it’s the same guys refereeing and judging every week.

Something has to be done to change what is going wrong as there have been so many examples recently.

What these judges don’t realise when they put these cards in is what it means to a fighter like Catterall who could end up with a tenth of what he could potentially earn in his next fight had he won the undisputed title. None of this is Taylor’s fault, but the judges need to be looked at and I think this time something will be done because there has been such a backlash. The issue was even brought up in parliament this week.

It’s said judges can be swayed by the crowd noise in the arena, but why not give them noise-cancelling headphones or something to block it out? Noise should not be a factor, even though we all know that it does have an impact, and the notion that you have to do more as a challenger is also nonsense — you just have to win the rounds and then if you have won enough, you win the fight.

It’s a bit mad to think that Jake Paul could be the saviour of boxing but his suggestion of how to score fights isn’t a bad idea where you have six judges divided into pairs and each has a quick debate at the end of a round to decide who won it. If there is too much of a debate then it’s even, or if both agree then obviously the round is scored to one fighter. That at least gives a bit of accountability.

At the very least, it’s time for full-time, professional judges. We need guys who are paid through the sport to judge in the same way you have professional football referees. Things have to change.

Big John Fury made his feelings known

I was over in London for the press conference to announce the fight between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte — even though Whyte was a no-show.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the whole thing, but Tyson is a great character and I had a sit-down chat with him for BT Sport. He said this will be his last fight and will either go into WWE wrestling or fight UFC star Francis Ngannou next, but is done with boxing when he deals with Whyte in at Wembley. The media attention was incredible. There was always a good bit around my big fights, but this was a different level.

I think a lot of people saw I had a run-in with his dad, John, after I said that Jake Paul would beat Tommy Fury. I wasn’t for hanging around there, so got offside as I had to change my trunks, but it’s all good now!

Caoimhin Agyarko can land some new fans

I’m a big fan of Caoimhin Agyarko and I’m looking forward to watching him on the Wood-Conlan undercard in Nottingham on Saturday.

I always felt he was wasted fighting on undercards in places like Telford where I saw him once, so once he signed with Eddie Hearn, I thought he would be promoted properly, brought back to Belfast and put on big cards.

It’s a great bill for him to be on and while it would be better if he was fighting at home, being on the bill of a home fighter like Mick Conlan will at least make people aware of you so that’s a positive and Mexican Juan Carlos Rubio should be a good test.

He’s a good fighter and I really like him, so he should be looked after and guided correctly.

I want to see Lawrence Okolie against Mairis Briedis

Lawrence Okolie had a good win over Michal Cieslak on Sunday night to defend his WBO cruiserweight title.

I like Lawrence and there is talk of a unification between him and IBF champ Mairis Briedis, which I would love to see.

Lawrence is definitely a puncher and it was a solid performance on Sunday against a good level opponent.


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