In fairness to promoter Frank Warren, he has produced a cracking card which takes place this Saturday night inside the Manchester Arena. The only shame is that the bill is now up against one from Matchroom, who promote the Dillian Whyte v Dereck Chisora rematch at the O2 Arena in London on the same evening. Both are box office attractions, with Warren’s offering being shown on BT Sport Box Office, and Matchroom’s on Sky Sports Box Office.
In my opinion, as a Boxing fan, I much prefer the Frank Warren extravaganza to the one being put on by Eddie Hearn, but both will be bought in spade by casual and hardcore fans alike. The main event in the North West is a belter. Leeds lad Josh Warrington puts his recently won IBF Featherweight Title on the line for the first time since winning it at his beloved Elland Road in the summer.
His opponent is Northern Irishman, Carl Frampton, the former WBA (Super) and IBF Super Bantamweight Champion, former WBA (Super) Featherweight Champion, and current Interim WBO Featherweight Champion. For the Boxing purist, this is a brilliant matchup. Here is the preview and prediction.
Josh Warrington (27-0, KO6) v Carl Frampton (26-1, KO15) – 12 Rounds, IBF Featherweight Title
Its a brilliant main event match in Manchester this weekend, as Leeds and Belfast collide in a battle of Britain. Two fighters at the top of their game meet for the IBF Featherweight Title, as Josh Warrington makes a maiden defence of the Title against Carl Frampton.
Warrington became Champion on a warm summers evening in May at the home of his footballing heroes, Leeds United, with an unexpected, but clinical dethroning of Welshman, Lee Selby. Warrington started as underdog for the contest, but controlled the action superbly, defusing Selby’s speed, and countering with his own high octane work. In the end it looked as though Josh had won comfortably enough, but still had to endure a split decision, which deservedly went his way.
Warrington has come through the ranks in the traditional way. He came onto the scene in 2013, when he picked up the Commonwealth Title as the away fighter, stopping Samir Mouneimne in the final round, to earn his first knockout win in his sixteenth outing. He picked up the British Title two fights later, by widely outscoring Martin Lindsay in Leeds. The European Title came next as Warrington stopped Davide Diele in four rounds.
Since that October 2014 night, Warrington has built a solid world ranking, with impressive wins over Joel Brunker (Unanimous), Hisashi Amagasa (Unanimous), Patrick Hyland (TKO9) and Kiko Martinez (Majority Decision). He finally became mandatory challenger for the IBF Title with an impressive tenth round stoppage win over the unbeaten Dane, Dennis Ceylan in October last year. This set up a chance at the World Title, which he grabbed with both hands. He’ll start against Frampton as underdog again, but its a tag he seems to relish.
In Carl Frampton, Warrington is facing a man with an impressive resume. “The Jackal” is aiming to become a three time World Champion this weekend, and will then look for unification, potentially against WBO Champion, Oscar Valdez, in 2019. A Commonwealth and European Champion at Bantamweight, Frampton captured World Honours by beating Kiko Martinez for a second time in September 2014 in Belfast.
He had previously defeated the Spaniard via ninth round stoppage the previous year in a defence of his European belt, but settled for a wide points win to win the IBF Bantamweight crown. A fifth round stoppage of Chris Avalos marked his first defence, before he was floored for the first time in his career against Alejandro Gonzalez in his US debut in Texas. Frampton was down twice in the opener, before recovering to see out a comfortable enough points win.
Next came a grudge February 2016 unification match with Manchester man, Scott Quigg, who held the WBA (Super) Title. The fight didn’t live up to the hype sadly, and Quigg left it far too late to mount a victory charge, with Frampton taking a split decision win. Rather than settle for a rematch, Frampton went to Brooklyn to challenge Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA (Super) Featherweight Title in July 2016. It was a barnstormer of a fight, full of toe to toe action, and The Belfast man’s stock rose massively across the pond with a majority decision win in a thriller. A rematch was inevitable, and a Las Vegas January 2017 reprisal took place. It was another cracking contest, with Santa Cruz turning the tables to hand Carl his first career defeat, by a razor thin majority decision.
Since then Frampton has been marking time as he seeks another shot at the big boys. He split with long time trainer, Shane McGuigan, to link up with Jamie Moore. It was a troubled start with a flat performance against Horacio Garcia, Frampton was counted in the seventh, but eventually won handily enough on the cards. He followed this up with an entertaining points win over Nonitio Donaire, and last time out, he achieved a dream in headlining at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, stopping the over matched Aussie, Luke Jackson in eight rounds in August.
In my opinion, Carl Frampton has been waiting for a match like this to bring him to the levels last seen in the two Santa Cruz classics. He is finally back in a World Title environment, and he should thrive on the occasion. Warrington is on the crest of a wave following his Title win in the summer, and is a dangerous opponent for Frampton to face. Although he doesn’t carry knockout power, Josh sets a frantic pace, and is relentless at times. I expect him to attempt to set the same pace this weekend in a white hot atmosphere at the iconic Manchester Arena.
I expect Warrington to start fast, and could well win the first few rounds while Frampton adjusts. I fully expect Frampton to take over from halfway, and time his run to perfection. My feeling is the Irishman will pick the brave Leeds man off, and could force a stoppage around the tenth round mark, but I think the fight itself has the potential to be a cracker.