Ahead of his salivating WBO Interim Featherweight shootout with seven-time World Champion Nonito Donaire at Belfast’s SSE Arena this weekend, Glynn Evans identifies the fights that rocketed ‘The Jackal’ into the Pound-For-Pound ‘Top Ten’ in 2016.
5. STEVE MOLITOR, BELFAST, SEPTEMBER 2012
The night when it first became evident that ‘The Jackal’s’ championship future was likely to be conducted on the global rather than domestic stage.
His 32-year-old Canadian opponent had conceded just twice – both to World Champions – in a 12-year, 36-fight career that included 10 World Title gigs, spread across two reigns on the IBF Super-Bantam throne.
But the 25-year-old Ulsterman, starting for just the 15th time as a pro and debuting at the bearpit Odyssey Arena, put the Canuck southpaw to the slaughter with a clinical exhibition of educated pressure and power hitting, to retain his Commonwealth 122lb strap for a third time.
Mauled Molitor, toppled in rounds three, four and six - when the carnage was compassionately curtained - never fought again.
4. KIKO MARTINEZ I, BELFAST, FEBRUARY 2013
In his next start, the Belfast bomber proved that he had the brains, jaw and lungs to supplement his incontestable skill and strength when he added the European Super-Bantam belt to his haul and became the first to stop the spiteful Spanish slugger.
With the Odyssey Arena an 8,000 sell-out, Frampton punctuated a mature, masterful display of controlled boxing by dispatching the man from Alicante with a single crushing straight right, late in round nine.
3. KIKO MARTINEZ II, BELFAST, SEPTEMBER 2014
Despite conceding in their initial encounter, ‘La Sensacion’ eclipsed Frampton in the race to a World Title and the Spaniard had twice successfully retained the IBF strap acquired from Columbia’s Jhonatan Romero (rsc6) when they reconvened for an encore 19 months later.
A custom built 16,000 arena was erected in the shadow of the iconic Harland and Wolff cranes, barely a mile from the Frampton family home in Tiger Bay, to honour Frampton’s anticipated coronation. And ‘The Jackal’ duly obliged with another clinic of his speed, skill and savvy.
The temperature was positively arctic but the action proved scorching. Thriving in the intense spotlight, Belfast’s finest showed great composure, discipline and mobility to suppress the rampant Spanish bull, dropping him in round five and relieving him of his IBF crown by a wide unanimous decision after a dozen memorable rounds.
2. SCOTT QUIGG, MANCHESTER, FEBRUARY 2016
Hostilities between the rival camps had been stewing for six years ahead of this IBF-WBA unifier and the odds significantly narrowed after Frampton was dumped twice in the opening stanza of his previous scrap, and Bury man Quigg was effectively handed home field.
The Englishman arrived at the Manchester Arena undefeated in 33 and, at 5ft 8in and with a 69in wingspan, was noticeably taller and longer. But Team Frampton delivered a tactical tutorial of the first order to sedate Scott and clean sweep the early rounds.
By the time Quigg awoke, his jaw had been snapped (right cross, round four) and the fight was effectively beyond him. Though he rallied in the final third, the majestic Frampton boxed him giddy in the last round to confirm his supremacy.
The verdict was split but, thankfully, the right man was rewarded and Frampton celebrated his pay-per view bow as a unified Champion.
1. LEO SANTA CRUZ, NEW YORK, JULY 2016
In a career-best showing, Frampton became Northern Ireland’s first and only two-division World Champion – and advanced into a global superstar – by outfoxing Mexican whirlwind Leo Santa Cruz to win the WBA Featherweight strap..
More than 9,000 crammed into the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch the unbeaten warlords duke it out and over two thirds were dubbed in the green of Ireland, including golf star Rory McIlroy. Frampton did not let them down in a titanic tussle that was a strong candidate for global Fight of the Year.
Again, Frampton flew out of the traps to monopolise the first half of the fight and, with an extra four pounds on his frame, was better equipped to cope with the inevitable backlash from the inexhaustible Santa Cruz after the turn.
Punch stats revealed that the Mexican threshing machine, a 3-1 on betting favourite, threw over a thousand shots but Carl’s clever defence ensured he landed less than a quarter. Frampton’s cleaner, harder strikes earned him a majority but merited decision after 12 rounds of the highest grade. America was wooed and Ring Magazine subsequently elected ‘The Jackal’ as their Fighter of the Year.
Buy BoxNation to watch Carl Frampton v Nonito Donaire on Saturday 21st April. Sky TV customers can use code CHAMPIONS for free registration (usually £8).