The streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland, are filled with excitement. Work begins on a 16,000 temporary arena in the world famous shipyard, Harland and Wolff. The birth place of the Titanic. Huge posters can be seen around busy shopping streets, local bars are making final plans for an invasion. A buzz has hit Belfast, one which has been felt here before. A world-title fight is approaching, reminisced of the days when Barry McGuigan returned to the City to defend his WBA World Featherweight belt.
This time Barry McGuigan returns as the promoter/manager of local star, Carl Frampton. The young Belfast man finally gets his well-deserved shot at a world title. “The Jackal” as he is known, born very close to the Titanic Quarters itself, in a place called Tigers Bay, has the entire support of his home country behind him. Carl grew up in a city torn apart by “The Troubles,” a dark period of the country’s history. Carl was able to escape the violence and managed to stay out of trouble himself by visiting the local boxing gym. After a successful amateur career, Carl turned professional under the guidance of hall of famer, Barry McGuigan. Also Carl is trained by Barry’s son, Shane.
His opponent is well known to the locals, former foe Kiko Martinez returns, this time with the IBF Super-Bantamweight world title. Many in Belfast believed they had seen the last of Martinez after their 2013 EBU European title showdown. Frampton was able to deliver a knockout blow in the ninth round in a closely contested bout. Since that defeat, Martinez has been doing well for himself, winning a world title and defending it twice. He shocked many people in the boxing world by travelling to Atlantic City, USA and stopping Jhonatan Romero in a one-sided fight. It will be very interesting to see if Martinez will offer anything different or if he has improved since the first fight.
The atmosphere in Belfast will be second to none, I consider the Belfast fight fans the best in the world and I don’t say that lightly. Anyone who has been to a Frampton fight will know that the noise the fans make is deafening. Kiko Martinez has been there and knows what to expect after the hostile atmosphere he received at the Odyssey Arena last February. This time, however, the venue is bigger to meet with ticket demands. The especially built outdoor 16,000 seated arena will be a picturesque sight in the Titanic Quarter under the huge shipbuilding cranes.
I think the rematch will be a tougher fight for Frampton. Both fighters know each other better and I feel Martinez will be more aware of the power Frampton possesses. Kiko might look to use the same tactics when he fought Romero last year. Martinez likes to fight up close with his opponents, he enjoys working the body with hard shots and looks for the huge overhand right to the head. Against Romero he was able to back the Colombian into the ropes, unloading huge shots, hurting him from the very first round. Frampton will need to box smart and avoid trading whenever possible with the heavy-handed Spaniard. What will help Frampton is his movement from great footwork. He will look to fight the Spaniard at distance, countering him and fighting behind the jab. He will mirror the tactics from the first fight and it will be interesting to see how Martinez plans to counter this. Frampton has huge power of his own and will be boxing smart, looking to unload that right hand for another stoppage victory. I expect Martinez to have a fast start, he will be looking to hurt Frampton early on and disrupt his tactics. An ugly fight will favour Martinez, he will want to rough up Frampton from early on and prevent him getting into any kind of a rhythm.
I feel like Frampton is the real deal and he is headed straight for the top. Potential fights in the future with the likes of Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz or maybe even Guillermo Rigondeaux are a real possibility with a win on the 6th September. Many feel like Frampton hasn’t yet reached his full potential and questions about his untested chin still remain. These questions could be answered by Kiko, if Frampton does not be careful. All it takes is one punch and the Belfast crowd could witness a shocking result. This fight offers to be a very good one but I expect Carl Frampton to win his first world-title, maybe by stoppage again. I feel the Belfast man has the superior boxing skills, he will use these to avoid brawling and will look to land the clearer and more effective punches.
Will Carl Frampton be crowned world champion, or will Martinez sink his world title dreams? It should be a highly entertaining night of boxing not to be missed.