BOXING analyst Nick Munday (@NM_Sport) looks ahead to Saturday's thrilling all-British featherweight clash between Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton.
Josh Warrington v Carl Frampton | BT Sport Box Office 10pm
On Saturday night in Manchester, there’s a high quality, all-British featherweight showdown between Carl Frampton and Josh Warrington. Warrington will be making the first defence of the IBF crown he wrestled away from Lee Selby in May.
Fresh from that famous victory, the ‘Leeds Warrior’ (27-0, 6 KOs) feels on top of the world after achieving his lifelong dream of becoming world champion at Elland Road. Prior to that, Warrington picked up English, British, Commonwealth and European titles in impressive fashion.
Over 25,000 fans cheered Warrington on as he swarmed all over Selby with non-stop work rate, finding a home for the left hook throughout. The Welshman looked overwhelmed and didn’t have the power to keep his challenger at bay, dropping a majority decision and losing the belt he’d held since 2015.
Warrington Underdog Again
Warrington was around 3/1 ahead of that bout, and once again the bookies could be underestimating him for this one, with 2/1 on offer. Oddsmakers expect Frampton (26-1, 15 KOs) to be number one for Christmas at 1/2.
In 2016 the Belfast hero lifted the IBF and WBA super-bantamweight belts before moving up to featherweight to upset Leo Santa Cruz in New York, earning him the Fighter of the Year accolade. However, in January 2017 Frampton lost the WBA featherweight title in a rematch against Santa Cruz.
That first defeat as professional prompted Frampton to change trainers and promoters, and he now says he’s the happiest he’s ever been under Jamie Moore. In April he dominated Nonito Donaire (UD) before wiping out Luke Jackson with powerful body shots (TKO 9) in the summer.
Expect a Brilliant Battle
In terms of styles, this could be surmised as work rate vs power, or quantity vs quality, and should lead to a terrific tussle. Warrington’s record shows he isn’t a big puncher, but he forces his opponents to work every second of every round. He has a safe, high guard and a solid chin. Even though Selby couldn’t keep him off bay, Frampton will believe he can by using his strong jab.
Interestingly both men have boxed tough Spaniard Kiko Martinez. Frampton stopped him in 2013 to win the European title, before earning a unanimous decision in a rematch for the world title 18 months down the line.
In contrast, Warrington struggled to a majority decision win over Martinez in May of last year, and many thought he was fortunate to get the verdict. The 28-year-old was punished for lazy jabs, slow footwork, and was often caught by the overhand right – which happens to be one of Frampton’s favourite punches.
Belfast Boy Back in Business
Frampton needs to make Warrington feel the power of the jab early on, and he’ll be feinting with sharp movements to invite Warrington in. From what we’ve seen of Warrington so far, it’s unlikely he can replicate the tactics Santa Cruz applied in the rematch by boxing off the back foot and countering.
These are two men who’ll leave it all in the ring, but this could come down to experience. Frampton said it himself recently: Warrington’s got as many knockout wins as Frampton’s had world title fights. Back the Belfast boy to win on points at 6/5.
As a side bet, it could be worth having a small go on a Frampton split decision. The quality, eye-catching work is likely to come from ‘The Jackal’, but he does have a habit of moving back on the ropes late on and Warrington’s sheer volume of punches may be hard to ignore for one of the judges.