Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire Came Face to Face in Belfast Ahead of Their April 21 Blockbuster Bout at the Sse Odyssey Arena
Carl Frampton believes he may have to produce a career-best performance to overcome Nonito Donaire in their April 21 blockbuster bout in Belfast.
Two-weight world champion Frampton (24-1, 14KOs) came face to face with four-weight champion Donaire (38-4, 24KOs) at a press conference at the Europa Hotel today (Wednesday) ahead of their SSE Odyssey Arena featherweight showdown, which will be screened live on BT Sport and BoxNation in Ireland and the UK.
With MTK Global-backed Frampton aiming to book a world-title stadium date at Windsor Park this summer, ‘The Jackal’ has insisted that he considers his Frank Warren-promoted clash against ‘Filipino Flash’ to be a high-risk/high-reward opportunity.
“I need to make sure that I’m going to put in the performance of my career, which it might take to win this fight,” said Frampton.
“I just take it one fight at a time. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m going to do everything I can in training camp and in my preparation for this fight to make sure that I’m ready,” added the Belfast native.
Frampton is eyeing a future date against the winner of the upcoming Lee Selby-Josh Warrington IBF world-title fight or whoever emerges from a bout between his old rival Scott Quigg and WBO world champion Oscar Valdez.
“There’s a lot on the line,” admitted ‘The Jackal’. “But these are all things that are in the future and there’s only one fight that I’m focused on at the minute.
“Nonito Donaire is a future Hall of Famer, a fantastic fighter… I need fights like this to get up for and I need big names.
“Nonito’s an amazing talent, a four-weight world champion. He can punch and he doesn’t just knock people over, he’s put guys to sleep before. But that gives me a wee bit of a fear factor and I think that’s when I’m going to be at my best.”
The April 21 bout will be a significant occasion for Irish boxing as two elite fighters go toe to toe.
Both men were previously recognised as Fighter of the Year by the Ring magazine, ESPN and the Boxing Writers’ Association of America, with Frampton awarded that honour for 2016 while Donaire picked up the same gongs in 2012.
Forty-two-fight veteran Donaire, now 35, remains determined to reclaim world honours and he echoed his opponent’s comments when insisting that Frampton will bring out the best in him.
“We need an opponent we can truly respect and at the same time you have that voice behind you that says, ‘this guy is tough, this guy is good and anything can happen’,” said Donaire.
“It allows the warrior within us to come out and that’s something that we’ll show on April 21st.
“One thing’s for sure, and I can see it from looking into Carl’s eyes, we’re both warriors and we’re willing to give it everything we’ve got for this fight. At the moment age is only a number for me because I’m very inspired to be here.”
While Frampton struggled at times during his most recent 10-round points win over Mexican Horacio Garcia last November – in a bout that marked the end of a 10-month lay-off following a number of changes to his team – the Irishman believes that victory will stand to him ahead of his April outing.
“Considering the year I’ve had, looking back on it, it wasn’t a bad performance,” said Frampton, who is now backed by MTK Global. “I think that last fight is going to be a blessing in disguise for me,” added the Belfast man, who explained that Donaire was his No 1 choice as an opponent, despite the fact that the Filipino poses a real threat to his summer fight plans.
“Credit to the teams for working together – Richard Schafer [Ringstar Sports], MTK and Frank Warren – and for bringing a name like Nonito to Belfast,” said Frampton. “My objective is to win a world title, I’m hoping to fight for a world title in the summer and what better opponent to get you ready for that other than Nonito Donaire?
“What would be the point in fighting a knock-over job? I don’t think that would be good for me or for boxing, so it’s just great to be involved on these big occasions.”
Frampton’s MTK Global team and promoter Frank Warren have worked on booking an undercard to match the occasion with three thrilling all-Irish domestic undercard fights confirmed today for the April 21 bill.
Dubliner Jono Carroll (15-0, 2KOs) will travel to meet Belfast’s Marco McCullough (18-4, 11KOs) in a 12-round super-featherweight showdown for the IBF European title, while Tyrone McKenna (15-0-1, 6KOs) and light-welterweight rival Philip Sutcliffe Jr (14-2, 9KOs) are set to clash in another long-awaited Belfast v Dublin bout.
An exciting All-Ireland middleweight fight will also take place as Tyrone’s WBO European champion Conrad Cummings (12-1-1) and Dublin’s Irish champion Luke Keeler (13-2, 5KO) do battle.
Further undercard announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
MTK Global’s Professional Development Coordinator Jamie Conlan believes one of the best pro cards in Irish boxing history is already taking shape.
“These are exactly the type of fights we want to make going forward –good domestic fights that are 50-50 and very difficult to call,” said Conlan. “We have three great all-Irish fights booked already and it’s really shaping up to be a fantastic bill – possibly the best to take place in Belfast and Ireland..
“This is a really tough fight for Carl,” said Conlan. “Donaire is a class act, but we’re fully confident that Carl is still the best featherweight in the world and he’ll prove that again on April 21.”
Tickets for Frampton v Donaire will be available to purchase from the SSE Arena Belfast Box Office, www.ssearenabelfast.com and 0044(0)28 9073 9074. Prices range from £40 (tier) to £400 (inner-ring hospitality). Tickets will also be available from MTK Global fighters on the bill.
All photos by Mark Marlow