When a fighter pulls out of a scheduled bout the replacement is often of lesser quality, someone willing to step in at short notice yet does not excite the paying public. Thankfully when European champion Kiko Martinez withdrew from his fight with Carl Frampton, due to injury, promoter Eddie Hearn was able to secure former two-time IBF champ Steve Molitor to face his Northern Irish prospect.
In only his 15th professional fight the 25-year-old will defend the IBF Inter-Continental and Commonwealth super bantamweight titles in front of a sellout crowd at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena. While some may be daunted by such an occasion this certainly isn’t the case for Frampton.”I’m excited, really excited. I think this is going to be the fight that puts me on the world stage,” he confessed to ThaBoxingVoice
Despite a wealth of success as an amateur and a series of dazzling performances as a pro which have earned him a reputation as one of the brightest young talents in British and Irish boxing he admits that Molitor is a massive step up in competition.
“Anyone that knows anything about boxing knows Steve Molitor was a great world champion before and he isn’t finished yet he still has dreams and aspirations of winning a world title again. He’s coming here to win but it’s up to me to not let him do that. I think it’s going to be a great fight.”
Having prepared for an orthodox pressure fighter, the crafty southpaw Molitor presents an entirely different challenge but one which the Northern Irishman feels he can negate.”I used to have problems with southpaws but not anymore. I’ve been in this game a long time and I’ve come across a lot of them. I enjoy it now, a lot of the time it can be like a chess match. I’m pretty good at sussing guys out, it only takes a round to find my range then we’re flying.”
However Frampton acknowledges that the game plans of each fighter could be decisive but has absolute faith his trainers Shane McGuigan, son of his manager Barry McGuigan, and Gerry Storey. “A lot of it is to do with tactics. We’ve got Shane McGuigan who is younger than me but in my opinion will soon be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. He’s a fantastic coach who really knows the game. He grew up round boxing, around his dad and he fought for a while. He knows his stuff. The tactics he has set for me have worked each time and I trust him 100%. Then obviously I’ve I got Gerry Storey who has years and years of experience, is very wise and good in the corner, very calming. I’m surrounded by good people.”
Carl’s dedication to the sport and drive to succeed is undoubted. Six weeks before each fight he leaves his native Belfast to live with Barry McGuigan in Kent. While there his life is devoted to preparing for his next contest, training in the gym located in McGuigan’s basement. His team ensures that his preparation is flawless with meticulous attention given to everything from the amout of sleep he gets to his diet. During this time Frampton’s fiancé and young child remain in Ireland which he finds tough but it’s a sacrifice he is willing to make for his career.
“Sometimes I bring them over for a couple of days or I’ll fly over briefly. I’d have my partner and daughter over more often but she works back home so it’s hard for her to get time off. If I stayed at home the sparring isn’t great in Belfast and I’d get inundated with people looking for tickets or favours so I just like to get away from all that and just focus on the fight,” he said candidly
Currently the super bantamweight division is one of the strongest in Britain with Frampton, [Scott]Quigg, [Rendall]Munroe and Kid Galahad all looking to establish themselves as the boss at 122lbs. The Northern Irishman is looking to send out a clear message to his rivals with victory over Molitor.
“You’ve got Quigg and Munroe up there and people talk about Kid Galahad as well but I see him as the lesser of those three. A win over Steve Molitor is going to put me past them.”
Despite the high ranking Frampton would earn with the sanctioning bodies as a result of victory over Molitor, he wants to prove that he is the domestic king before chasing a world title, with one fight in particular catching his eye. “When I was looking to fight Munroe and Quigg they were saying there was nothing in it for them, their further on in their careers than me and it doesn’t really make sense. If I beat Molitor I’m going to be past them but I’m still open to fighting them because I want to prove I’m the best in Britain and Europe before I move on and start tackling the best boys in the world. Once I beat Molitor I’d love to fight them, Quigg would be the main man to be honest; I’m not going to deny him the chance like he’s been doing to me.”
Frampton knows that a showdown with Quigg is high on UK fight fans wish lists and wants to give the people what they want, however he can only see that fight ending one way. “It’s very important to keep fans happy and be involved in exciting fights. I think me and Quigg, while it lasts, would be a very exciting fight. I understand that he is a good fighter and has a lot of fans but it’s a fight that I’m 100% confident that I would beat him in and knock him out. That’s a fight that’s a little bit down the line; I’ve got Molitor who is a tougher fight in my opinion than Kiko Martinez, Quigg, Munroe or Kid Galahad. This is the fight I have to deal with first.”