Boxing fans were rubbing their hands together in anticipation when it was announced that that local hero Carl Frampton would meet the American/Filiipino boxer Nonito Donaire in Belfast this April. After quite a disappointing year for the Irish Boxer this is seen as being the next stage in his progress towards challenging for a version of the world featherweight championship at some point in 2018 and Donaire is thought to be a good opponent to set him on his way.
30 year old Frampton originally turned professional back in 2009 after enjoying big success in the Irish Featherweight Finals and soon came under the wing of Barry McGuigan, although he has recently split from his Cyclone Promotions that he runs with his family.
His first professional fight was against Sandor Szinavel and right from the start he showed great promise by knocking his opponent out in the second round and he only had to wait till the next year to claim his first professional title, the Celtic Super Bantamweight prize that he took off Gavin Reid.
His first world title came on 2014 when, on September 6, he claimed the IBF crown in the same weight category by defeating Kiko Martinez, a title which he successfully defended against Chris Avalos with a fifth round knockout on February 28, 2015.
The next year he moved up a division and became the first ever Northern Irish boxer to win titles across two weights when he won the WBA (Super) Featherweight title from Leo Santa Cruz. However, the re-match, which took place in January 2017, saw Frampton suffer his only professional defeat when the majority decision of the judges went against him.
His only fight since then came in November 2017 when he defeated Horacio Garcia by unanimous decision in a 10 round bout staged in the SSE Arena in Belfast – the venue for his next fight with Donaire.
Many believe that this could be a surprisingly tough challenge for Frampton as, over his 17-year professional career, Donaire has won world belts in the flyweight, bantamweight, super-bantamweight and featherweight divisions and was at one stage rated among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. At one time he was also considered to be the natural successor to Manny Pacquiao’s throne as the Phillipines’ biggest boxing star.
Donaire turned pro in 2001 and gradually worked his way up through the divisions from flyweight upwards. His first world championship came in 2007 when, at the age of 25, he knocked out Vic Darchinyan to become IBF Featherweight Champion of the world.
His first bantamweight title came in 2010 when he defeated Volodymyr Sydorenko, knocking him down three times and becoming the first ever boxer to overcome the Ukrainian.
There followed many fights against many opponents until his most recent, against Ruben Garcia Hernandez in September 2017 in which he won the vacant WBA Silver Featherweight title.
So, everything seems set for an intriguing encounter between two well matched fighters. Over their respective professional careers Frampton has won 25 of his 26 fights with 14 knockouts while the stats for Donaire are 38 wins, 4 losses and 24 knockouts. Age is also thought to be something of a factor as, at 35, the Filipino is surely reaching the end of his career. This is clearly reflected in the early odds for the fight that see Frampton at 13/2 on with Donaire the 4/1 outsider.
However, as the figures show, he’s a big puncher who’s always capable of a surprise knockout so Frampton will have to be on the lookout for that single punch that could end his hopes of victory.
Also, the fact that Frampton had a less than stellar year in 2017 which began badly with his first and only professional defeat means that he’ll have to train hard between now and April. In his last bout against Horacio Garcia it was limited to only 10 rounds and, despite winning, he was frequently caught on the ropes and found it hard to extricate himself effectively.
So, while the bookmakers seem to think that it’s an open and shut case, this could well be a bout that throws up more than the odd surprise on April 7.