Raging rivals Lee Selby and Josh Warrington have struggled to find common ground during the bristling build-up to their Anglo-Welsh world title war for the former’s IBF Featherweight belt at Elland Road, Leeds on May 19th.
However, both predict that Carl Frampton will make short shrift of ‘Filipino Flash’ Nonito Donaire when the multi-weight world champs trade ammo at Belfast’s SSE Arena this Saturday.
Lee Selby (IBF Featherweight Champion)
‘I’m looking forward to a high-quality fight between class operators. Both have good boxing skills, both can punch very hard.
Frampton copped some criticism for his performance in his last fight but I thought he looked very good in spurts and he was returning off quite a lengthy lay-off, remember.
Carl is a rival but I’m not about to start slating him. We’ve both got great respect for each other as champions. I’ll reveal what I believe are his shortcomings in the ring, if and when I fight him!
He’s a well-rounded fighter, good on his feet and, though he’s not registered a stoppage win for over three years now, he can still definitely bang a bit. All his punches are hard. It’s just that he’s been competing against such elite boys. He’s also good on his feet, darts in and out, then goes for a second phase.
Nonito might be a shade past his best but he’s far from ‘washed-up’. He’ll still be awkward and tricky. In his prime, he was a very fast and skilled fighter.
He’s always been a real banger and they say that the last thing that a fighter loses is his punch so he’s gonna be dangerous for Frampton for as long as he’s upright. Donaire’s always been a very sharp and powerful left hooker. He wrecked (Fernando) Montiel when Montiel was a still a very good fighter. Carl won’t want to risk giving Donaire any free shots.
The big issue with Donaire these days is how much motivation remains. He’s already earned fortunes and reached the highest point in boxing. It might be difficult to get up for this. At 35, his desire could be questionable.
My advice to Frampton here would be to try to utilise his boxing skills; gradually break Donaire up with the jab, then hope that the Filipino’s age and all those past, hard title fights will have slowed him down. Then, in the second half, Carl can try to put it on him.
Donaire’s best hope would be the opposite of what Frampton needs to do. He needs to try and jump on Carl early and clip him with clean, heavy left hooks.
I can see it being cagey early on. The stakes are so high and both will be wary of the other’s explosive punch. With fighters of this power and calibre, there’s very little margin for error. Gradually it should become exciting. Both have the one-shot dig to seriously hurt the other if they connect flush.
I think Frampton will win by a late kayo. He has youth and home advantage on his side – which is massive with the Belfast crowd - and I believe that, at this stage, his desire will be greater.’
Josh Warrington (IBF mandatory challenger)
‘It’s a good match-up. All those hard, hard fights are sure to have taken a toll on Donaire but he’s still a very dangerous man.
At his peak, Nonito was a serious pound-for-pound contender. On point, he brings real explosiveness when he gets inside and he can deliver special combinations; fast and heavy.
It’ll be fascinating to see what Nonito turns up in Belfast, what he has left. In his absolute prime, he was a real whirlwind with a phenomenal work rate. He’s not been in the limelight much lately but the rest could’ve refreshed him.
And I expect Donaire to be really up for it mentally. He’s a natural fighting man and he knows that beating Frampton is his way back in to the major belts and mega bucks. It’s his last throw of the dice.
But Frampton will also be extremely motivated here. He’s hungry for another world title and he’s still chasing that dream stadium fight at Windsor Park.
Last time, Carl looked sharp for four or five rounds. His reactions were good but then he slowed. It could’ve been the ring rust but he appeared out on his feet at the end.
I expect him to step up from that level of performance against Donaire. At his best, Frampton’s got a very good boxing brain and moves well. He seems to be really enjoying his camps again with Jamie Moore and the lads at his new gym in Manchester. They all seem to be bouncing off each other.
Their respective styles should blend to provide the Belfast fans with an entertaining fight, with Carl looking to box and counter from distance. Carl doesn’t need to get involved unnecessarily.
Expect Nonito to set a high pace and put it on Frampton early on. However, he can’t simply rush in, because Frampton has the reactions to frustrate Donaire, make him miss, make him pay.
If it gets past five or six rounds, it’ll become very interesting because, if Donaire has ridden out the early rounds and gets into the second half, he can step it up. However, when he lets them combos go, he needs to be mindful not to finish up straight in front of Frampton because Carl will punish him.
Though Nonito likes to explode, he leaves his chin high and is open, if he misses. Carl could catch him with that sharp right hand-left hook counter combo of his. And Donaire can be hurt. Though he’s only been stopped once by Nicholas Walters, he’s been on the canvas a few times.
I think 126lbs will suit Carl better and, at this stage, I sense he’ll have a little bit too much. Carl’s head’s in a good place now plus he has home advantage. I also think he’ll want it a little bit more when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. Nonito’s no longer at his peak so I expect Frampton to land clean late on and force a stoppage.
If Carl comes through as I expect, I’ll happily have a ‘Leeds Away Day’ and give him his ‘do’ at Windsor Park, after I’ve smashed Lee Selby!’