Josh Warrington vs Carl Frampton IBF World featherweight title official on-site 34 page programme, 22nd December 2018, Manchester Arena (formerly M.E.N Arena), Manchester.
Warrington W unanimous decision
Josh Warrington retained his IBF featherweight World title as a blistering start set up a unanimous points win over Carl Frampton in a fight-of-the-year contender in Manchester.
Captivating from start to finish, the Englishman's staggering work rate laid the platform for a hugely impressive win, his 28th in succession.
Having narrowly avoided being dropped in the opening round, Frampton fought gallantly with wonderful shot selection to tighten up the contest in the middle rounds.
However, the Northern Irishman could not reverse the damage sufficiently as he slid to defeat in a World title fight for the second time.
Warrington now looks set for a unification bout against one of the division's other belt holders, with WBO champion Oscar Valdez his most likely opponent.
Two judges scored the fight 116-112, with the other scoring 116-113.
"My hands are sore and I've got bruises on my head but I've done it. I've shown what I'm about," he told BBC Radio 5 live.
"If you had said last year that I would've beaten Lee Selby and Carl Frampton back to back, people would've laughed in your face.
"I think I earned his respect as soon as I hit him, but it was always about controlling the pace. I've always had self belief and I've had it for a long time.
"I don't feel pressure now once I get into a building because I get this massive energy from somewhere. Once I'm in there, I feel I can't be beaten."
The styles of the fighters pointed to this being a classic featherweight contest, and so it proved, with both men backed by raucous support to create a memorable night.
Warrington seized the belt with a wonderful display of front foot boxing against Lee Selby in May, but still few could have anticipated the incredible onslaught he produced in the opening two rounds, twice rocking Frampton with a terrific flurry of shots.
Frampton, having sustained a cut under the left eye, worked his way back into the fight and landed several neat hooks but it was the champion who continued to produce the more eye catching combinations.
Little separated the pair from the third round onwards, with Warrington remarkably catching a second wind in the eighth to stop Frampton seizing the momentum in the crucial final rounds.
The Belfast fighter had pointed to Warrington's record of just six knock outs as evidence of a lack of power, however in the opening exchanges no such limitation seemed to hamper him.
Frampton was sent rocking across the ring and seemed certain to hit the canvas for the first time in seven fights but remained on his feet and managed to close out the second round.
In the build up to the fight the pair were at pains to point out that the apparent absence personal animosity would not dilute the end product and so it proved, with Warrington describing himself as a "Frampton fan" in the immediate aftermath while the defeated fighter stated that he had no complaints with the result.
A standing ovation from the entire crowd seemed a fitting conclusion to the bout, which promoter Frank Warren described as "the best fight I have ever seen".
What Next For Warrington And Frampton?
Given the absorbing nature of the contest, one could be forgiven for pleading the case for a rematch. However, Warrington will rightfully have the opportunity to unify as he once again showed he is more than worthy of his World champion status in one of boxing's most competitive divisions.
Should Valdez come through his title defence next month, the undefeated Mexican is his most likely opponent and had already signalled he wanted to face the winner of this fight.
For Frampton, the loss is a severe blow to his desire to meet WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz for a third time, with the 31 year old hinting he will consider his future in professional boxing.
Having lost the belt to Santa Cruz in January 2017, the Belfast man has spent the past two years plotting a path back to the top of the division and eventually landed his World title shot in his fourth fight with new trainer Jamie Moore.
One of the best fights I've covered - analysis
Mike Costello, BBC Sport boxing correspondent at Manchester Arena.
It's very high among the best fights I've covered at ringside. Very rarely have we seen something like we have seen here tonight.
This has the making of a fight of the year nominee because the two men showed such determination, such resilience and such skill, that we ended up with something very memorable.
Carl Frampton competed at an elite level tonight but the question is how much has that taken out of him? He's lost a World title before and knows how tough it is to climb back. He has to ask himself that question because the desire to fight is like elastic in your socks. Once you've lost it, you can't get it back.
The plan was definitely to apply controlled pressure because he felt he had the greater strength in those exchanges. But the way Warrington closed the gap between him and Frampton in those exchanges was key in the fight.
It was a phenomenal performance from Warrington for a first defence of his title.
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Josh Warrington (born 14 November 1990) is British who has held the IBF featherweight title since May 2018. He has previously held the WBC International, European, Commonwealth, British, and English featherweight titles.
Warrington is ranked as the second best featherweight in the UK and the sixth best featherweight in the World by BoxRec as of November 2018.
Josh graduated from the University of Leeds in 2013.
Warrington turned professional in 2009 and won on his professional debut against Wolverhampton's Delroy Spencer (11-89-3) in October before defeating Latvia's Pavels Senkovs (2-10-2), winning both four round contests by 40-36 points decision.
In 2010, Warrington won all of his three fights, defeating Danny McDermid (0-1), John Riley (0-0) and Youssef Al Hamidi (7-27-2), winning all of his four round contests by points decision.
By the end of 2011, Warrington maintained his undefeated record with wins over Steve Gethin (11-56-3), Chris Riley (3-3-2), Marc Callaghan (19-21-1), Dougie Curran (5-8-1) and Ian Bailey (7-8), all by points decision.
In the first half of 2012, Warrington defeated Dan Naylor (1-8) and Ibrar Riyaz (4-34-1) by points decision.
In November, Warrington won his first professional title after he defeated the previously unbeaten Dudley-born prospect Chris Male (11-0) by unanimous decision in a ten round contest to win the vacant English featherweight title. The fight took place at the Venue in Dudley on 9 November.
On 22 March, Warrington made the first defence of his English featherweight title against former Southern Area super featherweight champion Jamie Speight (11-4). He won by unanimous decision over 10 rounds (scorecards of 100-91, 100-91, 100-90) when headlining a show at the Town Hall in Leeds.
On 27 September, Warrington made the second defence of his English featherweight title after he defeated Southern Area featherweight champion Ian Bailey (9-14) by unanimous decision over 10 rounds. The scorecards read 100-91, 98-92, 100-90 in Warrington's favour. The fight took place at the Banqueting Suite at the Elland Road Stadium in Leeds.
On 2 November, Warrington won the vacant Commonwealth featherweight title after he defeated the previously undefeated Hull born prospect Samir Mouneimne by 12th round stoppage in a 12 round contest. The fight took place at the Ice Arena in Hull and was Warrington's first fight on a Matchroom Boxing show.
In early April, it was announced that Warrington would make the first defence of his Commonwealth featherweight title against former super bantamweight World title challenger Rendall Munroe (28-4-1) on 19 April. The fight would take place at the Manchester Arena on the undercard to Scott Quigg vs Tshifhiwa Munyai.
Warrington won by seventh round corner retirement in the 12 round contest after Munroe suffered damage to his mouth. Later that month, Munroe announced his retirement from boxing.
On 28 April, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington would make the second defence of his Commonwealth featherweight title and fight for the vacant British featherweight title against former British champion Martin Lindsay (21-2) at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 21 May.
Warrington won by unanimous decision over 12 rounds with all three judges producing scorecards of 119-110.
Five Fight Matchroom Deal
On 27 August, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington had signed a five fight deal with the promotional company. Speaking of the deal, Warrington said: "It’s great to have signed the deal so that I know that there’s going to be more big nights in Leeds in the next year."
Promoter Eddie Hearn said: "Josh is the biggest ticket seller in the country right now, and we have an opportunity to do something very big in Leeds. We dipped our toe in the water in May and now we’re diving in headfirst. It’s a huge opportunity for Josh and I think we could see one of the most memorable atmosphere in a British arena for some time."
On 4 October, Warrington won the vacant EBU European featherweight title after he defeated Italy's Davide Dieli (15-3) by fourth round stoppage in a 12 round contest. The fight took place at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
On 15 December, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington would fight on the undercard to Arthur Abraham vs Paul Smith in Berlin on 21 February, his first fight of the year.
Later it was confirmed that Warrington would fight Nicaragua's Edwin Tellez (9-11-5) in an eight round contest.
Prior to the fight, Warrington told theYorkshire Evening Post: "Even though he's not got an excellent record, he's a fighter that I cannot take lightly."
Warrington won by fifth-round stoppage.
On 7 January, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington would fight Philippines' Dennis Tubieron (19-3-2) in a WBC World title eliminator and for the vacant WBC International featherweight title. The fight would headline a show at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 11 April.
Warrington was accompanied by former Leeds United footballer Vinnie Jones during his ringwalk.
Warrington won by unanimous decision over 12 rounds, with all three judges producing scorecards of 119-109 in his favour.
After the fight, he admitted that he wasn't at his best, telling SkySports: "Looking back, I don’t think it was my best performance, but it’s all about learning. Maybe if I’d listened to my instructions a little bit more, I’d have got him out of there, but it’s all about experience. I can take so much from that fight."
Later that month, Warrington vacated his EBU European featherweight title after suffering a slight injury.
On 22 June, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington would defend his WBC International and Commonwealth featherweight titles against Australia's Joel Brunker (28-1) at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 5 September.
Warrington won by unanimous decision over 12 rounds, with all three judges producing scorecards of 120-108 in his favour.
On 15 February, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington would make the second defence of his WBC International featherweight title against Japan's Hisashi Amagasa (30-5-2), a former World title challenger at super bantamweight. The fight would take headline the show at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 16 April.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said of the fight: "Josh is hunting a summer clash with IBF champion Lee Selby, so he cannot afford any slip ups against Japanese banger Amagasa."
Warrington won by unanimous decision over 12 rounds, with the scorecards reading 117-111, 118-111 and 120-107 in his favour.
On 14 June, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington would make the third defence of his WBC International featherweight title against Patrick Hyland (31-2), headlining a show at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 30 July.
The WBC International featherweight title wasn't on the line for Hyland as he came in 2lbs and 6oz over weight at the weigh-in.
Warrington won by ninth-round technical knockout after he knocked Hyland down once in round 8 and again round 9.
Leaving Matchroom And Joining Frank Warren
On 2 December 2016, Matchroom Boxing announced that Warrington's promotional contract with them had expired. Warrington's promoter and Matchroom managing director Eddie Hearn said in a statement "we did not share the same plans as his team and decided not to make any further offers."
After much speculation, Warrington officially signed for rival British promoter Frank Warren in a "long term promotional deal" later in December. Warren said he was confident of delivering a first World title shot for Warrington as well as a number of shows in Leeds in 2017.
In February, Warren announced that Warrington would be making his return to the ring on 13 May at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. It was initially announced that Warrington would fight WBO Inter-Continental champion Marco McCullough. However, it was since announced that Warrington would not fight McCullough and would instead fight former IBF super bantamweight World champion Kiko Martinez (36-7-1).
Warrington defeated Martinez by a majority decision over 12 rounds, with scorecards of 116-112 (twice) and 114-114, in the third defence of his WBC International title.
In August, it was announced that Warrington would fight the undefeated EBU European champion Dennis Ceylan (18-0-2) in an IBF World title final eliminator, to the title held by champion Lee Selby, at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 21 October.
Commenting on the fight, Warrington said: "With Selby not taking a fight with me, it’s left me annoyed and even more hungry to produce a massive performance on October 21."
Warrington defeated Ceylan by tenth round technical knockout after twice knocking down Ceylan in the same round.
Speaking of Lee Selby, Warrington told BT Sport in his post fight interview that: "I want to get the Welshman up here. If we can make it at Elland Road, let's have it. I've waited so long and now I'm there."
On 23 January, it was confirmed that Warrington would fight IBF World champion Lee Selby (26-1) in his first World title fight on 19 May. On 30 January Elland Road Stadium, the home of Leeds United was confirmed as the venue for the fight.
Warrington commented on the fight: "By winning this fight, not only do I get my hands on a World title, but it’s a chance to show everyone that I’m the best featherweight in the UK and propel myself onto the World level." Warrington was accompanied to the ring by ex Leeds United player Lucas Radebe whilst band Kaiser Chiefs performed live.
Josh Warrington secured a split decision victory over Selby by thoroughly outworking him for the majority of the twelve rounds to claim the title, and hand Selby his second career loss.
Warrington's promoter is Frank Warren, of Queensbury Promotions, having previously been signed to Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Boxing.
He is trained by his father Sean O'Hagan.
He is managed by Steve Wood, from VIP Boxing, who also manage former WBO lightweight World champion Terry Flanagan.
He is a supporter of local sports teams Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos.
Carl Frampton, MBE (born 21 February 1987) is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has held the WBO interim featherweight title since April 2018, and is a former World champion in two weight classes, having held the unified WBA (Super) and IBF super-bantamweight titles between 2014 and 2016, and the WBA (Super) featherweight title from 2016 to 2017. At regional level he held the European and Commonwealth super-bantamweight titles between 2011 and 2014.
By winning the featherweight World title in 2016, Frampton became the first boxer from Northern Ireland and only the second boxer from Ireland (after Steve Collins) to have held World titles in two weight classes. This earned him Fighter of the Year awards by The Ring magazine, the Boxing Writers Association of America, and ESPN.
As of November 2018, Frampton is ranked as the World's third best active featherweight by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, The Ring, and BoxRec.
Amateur boxing in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is governed by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. As an amateur, Frampton fought out of the Midland Boxing Club in Tiger's Bay and won the Irish senior flyweight title in 2005 and added the Irish featherweight title in 2009, beating David Oliver Joyce in the final.
He also claimed a silver medal at the 2007 European Union Amateur Boxing Championships in Dublin, losing to France's Khedafi Djelkhir in the final. Frampton is one of Ireland's most successful amateur boxers of recent years, winning over 100 of his fights and losing only 8 times.
Later commenting on his decision to box for the Irish team, Frampton, who grew up in a Unionist area of Belfast, said "I get asked all the time, 'would you have liked to have boxed for Great Britain?' And the answer is 'no'. I was looked after by Irish boxing from pretty much 11 years old and was very proud to box for Ireland." He added, "it's very humbling to know that so many people are supporting me from all over Ireland and mainland UK."
Frampton turned professional after his victory in the 2009 Irish featherweight finals. In June 2009, fought his first professional fight at the Olympia, Liverpool, in England and beat Sandor Szinavel with a second round knockout on a card that included Grzegorz Proksa and Ajose Olusegan. In January 2010, he was named Ireland's Prospect of the Year at the Irish National Boxing Awards. In September 2010 he recorded an "electrifying" win over the Ukrainian Yuri Voronin in front of an Ulster Hall crowd which included Daniel Day-Lewis. The win led the Belfast Telegraph to liken him to a "reincarnation" of Barry McGuigan.
In December 2010, Frampton won his first professional title, the BBBofC Celtic super bantamweight title, with a second round TKO win over Scottish boxer Gavin Reid in the Ulster Hall. Following his victory, Frampton described the super bantamweight division as being "super-hot" and named Scott Quigg and Rendall Munroe as potential opponents. He then went on to get a fourth round TKO win over Venezuelan Oscar Chacin, and later fought his first defence of his BBBofC Celtic title against Welshman Robbie Turley in June 2011, winning by a unanimous decision after ten rounds.
Domestic And Regional Success
Carl fought Australian Mark Quon as a replacement for Kiko Martinez on 10 September for the Commonwealth super bantamweight title at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast winning by a fourth round TKO stoppage. On 28 January 2012, he successfully defended his Commonwealth title against Kris Hughes in the York Hall, with the fight having to be stopped in the seventh round. According to the BBC, Frampton controlled the contest from the start and was never threatened by his opponent. On 17 March 2012, Frampton once again defended his title against Ghana's Prosper Ankrah and won by a second round TKO stoppage. After his victory Frampton challenged the British champion Scott Quigg saying that "I don't know if he wants it but, if he does, he should tell his promoter".
Frampton then beat fellow unbeaten contender Raúl Hirales, Jr. (previously 16-0, 8 KO's) of Mexico by a unanimous decision and won the vacant IBF Inter-continental super bantamweight title on the undercard of Carl Froch vs Lucian Bute in Nottingham, UK. The fight took place on 26 May 2012. On 22 September 2012, Frampton took on former two time World champion Steve Molitor. The fight took place in the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on a card that included Martin Lindsay and Paul McCloskey. Frampton scored an impressive sixth round TKO and had the former champion on the canvas three times during the bout. After the fight, Frampton announced that he was willing to "fight anyone" and that he was "ready for a World title fight".
On 9 February 2013, Carl Frampton faced hard punching Spaniard Kiko Martinez in front of 8,000 of his home fans in the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Martinez, the European Champion, had previously knocked out Bernard Dunne in 86 seconds to win the title and had never been knocked down. Frampton won by TKO in Round 9, winning the European super bantamweight title and retaining the IBF Inter-Continental super bantamweight title. After the fight Frampton said "I just want the people of Belfast to be proud of me", and described his beaten opponent as "hard as nails". In August 2014, Martinez won the IBF title with a sixth round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Colombian Jonatan Romero.
On 19 October 2013, Frampton defended his EBU and IBF Inter-Continental titles in an IBF title eliminator against IBF #4 ranked Jeremy Parodi. The fight took place in front of a maximum capacity 9,000 fans at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast. Frampton knocked Parodi out with a body shot at the end of the sixth round. On 4 April 2014 Frampton faced the Mexican Hugo Cazares at the Odyssey Arena in a final eliminator for Leo Santa Cruz's WBC super bantamweight World Championship. In front of a sold out crowd of 9,000 Frampton knocked out Cazares in the 2nd Round, with a left hook to the head.
Frampton vs Martinez II
Frampton challenged for his first World title on 6 September 2014 in a rematch against Kiko Martinez (31-4, 23 KOs). Martinez's IBF super bantamweight title was at stake and the bout took place in an outdoor arena at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. In the build up to the fight, Frampton said of Martinez: "He's very emotional and that's what makes him dangerous... he's a hot head, he can be very easily agitated but he's coming to win". Fighting in front of a crowd of 16,000 Frampton knocked Martinez down in the fifth round and won by unanimous decision, with two scores of 119-108 and one score of 118-111, winning his first World title. Interviewed after the fight Frampton said "I've got the World title. I feel a bit emotional – it has been a long time coming, it has been a hard road. I intend to hang on to it for a very long time." He went on to call for a unification fight with the WBA champion Scott Quigg, saying "I'll fight him in Manchester, I'll fight him anywhere". After the fight, Barry McGuigan said of his protege "This kid could end up as the best Irish fighter there has ever been."
As result of his performances Frampton was nominated for the 2014 RTE Sports Person of the Year. In 2015, he was named Britain's Coolest Man by ZOO Magazine beating the likes of David Beckham, Tom Hardy and Ed Sheeran to get the award. Frampton said after receiving the award, "I couldn't believe it when they told me, I thought it was a wind-up! But it's great, especially as it's ZOO readers and the people of Britain who have voted for me. It's also great for the sport of boxing."
Frampton was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to boxing.
Frampton vs Avalos
In December 2014, it was announced that Frampton would make his first defence on his title on 28 February 2015 against American Chris Avalos (25-2, 19 KOs) at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. ITV decided to pick up the bout in the UK. For the fight, Frampton sparred with then unbeaten Horacio "Violent" García, who then later fought each other in 2017. Frampton's team were looking at a sellout crowd, to fill the 11,000 capacity. Frampton made a successful defence of his World title in devastating fashion as he laid a sustained beating on Avalos en route to a one sided, fifth-round knockout. Avalos took a ferocious beating in the fifth round. A clean right hand staggered Avalos as Frampton continued to pound him around the ring. When he rocked Avalos with another right hand, referee Foster intervened and waved off the contest at 1 minute, 33 seconds. The fight averaged 1.1 million viewers and peaked at 1.9 million viewers on ITV.
Frampton vs Gonzalez Jr
It was announced that Frampton would make a second defence of his IBF World title on 18 July at the Don Haskins Convention Center, El Paso, Texas against 22 year old Alejandro Gonzalez Jr live on ITV. Gonzalez, who was a massive underdog, scored two knockdowns in the first round and appeared to ruin Frampton's plans. Frampton shook off the knockdowns, came back strong and rolled to a decisive unanimous decision in a highly entertaining fight that headlined the Premier Boxing Champions card on CBS. Despite the anxious early moments, Frampton won 116-108, 116-108 and 115-109 on the scorecards. Referee Mark Calo-Oy warned Gonzalez for hitting Frampton with a low blow in the second round and then took away a point when he did it again in the third round. Frampton controlled the fight from there on. According to CompuBox punch statistics, Frampton connected on 246 of 692 blows (36 percent), whilst Gonzalez landed 145 of 593 (24 percent). The fight averaged 1.7 million viewers and peaked at 2.4 million at 10.55pm on ITV.
Frampton vs Quigg
On 27 February 2016, Frampton fought his long awaited opponent, undefeated WBA super bantamweight champion Scott Quigg (31-0-2, 23 KOs) in front of a sellout crowd in Manchester. In a close fight, Frampton won by split decision with the judges scoring the fight 113–115, 116–112, 116–112. Frampton was in full control of the first half of the fight, during which Quigg simply could not find his range, however Quigg finally came alive down the stretch as the contest turned into a desperate tussle, but Frampton gave as good as he got.
In March 2016, several press releases announced that Frampton did not intend to face Guilerrmo Rigondeaux in his next bout. On 11 March 2016 the WBA wrote to Frampton inquiring whether the press releases were accurate and requested he confirm his intentions on or before 18 March 2016. The WBA received no response. Additionally, Rigondeaux's representatives were not approached by anyone on Frampton's behalf to negotiate a bout. "In light of Frampton's announced intention to face an opponent other than his mandatory", says WBA championships chairman Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, "and for failing to respond to WBA inquiries as to his intent, Frampton's recognition as Champion is removed."
Frampton vs Santa Cruz
Frampton moved up a weight class to fight undefeated Mexican Léo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 22 KO's) for the WBA (Super) featherweight title at the Barclays Centre in New York City on 30 July 2016. In a potential fight of the year candidate, Frampton became the first two division World champion in the history of Northern Ireland as he dethroned Santa Cruz via a 12 round majority decision win before an crowd of 9,062. One judge scored it a 114-114 draw but the others made Frampton the winner, 116-112 and 117-111. Frampton had a higher accuracy rate, despite both fighters landing equal numbers of punches. According to CompuBox stats, Frampton landed 242 of 668 punches (36 percent), whilst Santa Cruz connected on 255 of 1,002 blows (25 percent). In the post fight, Frampton said he wanted to defend the title in his home city and did not want to rule out a rematch. In the post fight, Frampton said, "It's a dream come true. I had the dream of winning a World title, but I never thought I'd win in two divisions. It was a tough fight. I wanted a fight the people could remember. I respect Santa Cruz a lot. He was a true warrior." Frampton vowed to break records and become the first Irishman to win World titles at three different weights. The fight averaged 480,000 and peaked at 549,000 viewers.
Frampton vs Santa Cruz II
As discussed immediately following the first bout, a rematch between Frampton and Santa Cruz was finalised in October. There was talks the fight would take place in Frampton's hometown of Belfast, however the venue was confirmed to be at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the first time Frampton would fight there since becoming a professional. The date was confirmed to be 28 January 2017. 10,085 were in attendance as Frampton lost his title by majority decision. Santa Cruz and Frampton immediately discussed interest in a third fight, possibly in Frampton's hometown of Belfast. Frampton earned a purse of $1 million compared to $900,000 that Santa Cruz received. Frampton only landed 133 of his 592 punches thrown (22%) whereas Santa Cruz landed 230 of his 884 thrown (26%). Nielsen Media Research reported the fight averaged 587,000 and peaked at 643,000 viewers.
Change Of Promoters
On 14 May 2017, Frampton was number two by the WBA at super featherweight, which indicated to many that he may be moving up to become a three weight World champion. By the end of May, talks had begun for a fight against IBF champion Lee Selby. Frampton's promoter Barry McGuigan said the fight would happen, but may not happen next due to Selby having a mandatory fight due next. On 15 June, Frampton labelled Selby a 'time-waster' and announced that he would be returning to the ring in Belfast on 29 July against an unnamed opponent. Cyclone Promotions confirmed that Frampton would fight 23 year old Mexican boxer Andrés Gutiérrez (35-1-1, 25 KOs) at the SSE Arena in Belfast in a WBC eliminator. A day before the fight, Frampton weighed one pound over the 126 pound limit. The fight was to still take place but without being an eliminator. Frampton apologised to his fans in a statement,
"After a long training camp of intense preparation and trying to make weight, I was disappointed that I came in 1lb over the featherweight limit today. I tried everything I could to cut down, but unfortunately, my body just wouldn't allow it in the end. I'd like to apologise to the fans that have got involved and shown incredible support throughout this frantic fight week, and to those that will be cheering me onto victory on Saturday night. Furthermore, I would like to apologise to my opponent Andres Gutierrez - who will still have the opportunity to win the WBC eliminator on Saturday."
Later that day, Gutiérrez slipped in the shower in his hotel and suffered a gash on his chin. It was also reported that he had knocked some teeth out in the process and bruised his head. The fight was called off. Frampton's manager Barry McGuigan was said to be disappointed, but told ticket holders to retain their tickets as the card could be rescheduled. Cyclone Promotions, together with The SSE Arena and the Gutiérrez camp said they would work quickly to reschedule the fight and find a new date.
On 17 August 2017, the fight was called off completely. The news came after reports circulated that Frampton would be parting ways with long time promoter Cyclone Promotions. A date in November was considered, however was unsuitable for both boxers. Frampton officially announced the split with Cyclone Promotions on 22 August 2017. In the tweet, he had no mention to whether he would still train with Shane McGuigan.
In early September, rumours circulated that Frampton would hire former boxer Jamie Moore as his new trainer. On 6 September, Frampton confirmed the rumours on his Twitter as being true as he officially revealed his new trainer. On 19 September, Frampton announced he had signed a deal with MTK Global, who would work on his behalf as advisors. On 23 September it was rumoured that Frampton would sign with British promoter Frank Warren. After splitting with Cyclone, Frampton made it known that he would only sign with a promoter who could guarantee him a stadium fight in Ireland. A day later, Frampton revealed he had joined Warren. In a statement, he said, "I had interest from America and the UK but it really came down to two very similar offers from Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren. I'm desperate to kick on and have a fight before Christmas and I can confirm I will be fighting in Belfast." He wanted to secure a World title in the first half of 2018.
Frampton vs García
At the official press conference of the promotional announcement, it was announced that Frampton would fight an unnamed opponent on 18 November 2017 in Belfast at the SSE Arena. According to Warren, this would pave the way for a World title fight at Windsor Park in May/June 2018. On 4 October, it was confirmed that Frampton would fight Mexican boxer Horacio García (33-3-1, 24 KOs) in a 10 round bout. Speaking about the fight, Frampton said, “I asked for a ten-round fight. I would have been happy to be doing twelve rounds but speaking to my team after the bad year I’ve had and the long layoff they thought it was only fair to come back with a ten rounder before we target the big names.” This would mark Frampton's first fight in Belfast since February 2015, when he made his first defence of the IBF super bantamweight title.
The fight was fought at 127 pounds. García's stablemate Canelo Álvarez was introduced to the crowd of 10,000 pro-Frampton fans. Frampton, in what was not his best performance in a long time, decisioned a brave and tough opponent in García after 10 rounds. The three judges' scored the fight 98-93, 97-93 and 98-93. Some at ringside had the fight closer, but had Frampton winning nonetheless. Frampton started of strong however ring rust became an issue. From round 4, García repeatedly trapped Frampton against the ropes and worked him over with body shots. In round 7, Frampton was dropped after García landed a left hook. Referee Victor Loughlin, who was stood behind Frampton when the punch landed, started to count. From Loughlin's point of view, it was a punch that dropped Frampton. Replays showed that it could have been ruled a legitimate slip. Frampton admitted he let himself get into a battle. He said, "I thought it was a good fight and everyone would have enjoyed that more than me. I was boxing lovely at the start then I let him drag me into a fight. I wanted it to be a hard fight, that has got the rust off, the cobwebs have gone and I want one of the big boys. I will let the team decide who I fight next." Frampton and Warren both stated that there would be another fight in the Spring of 2018, followed by a Summer fight at Windsor Park.
Frampton vs Donaire
In December 2017, Frank Warren announced Frampton would next fight on 7 April 2018 in Belfast with former four weight World champion Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24 KOs) as a potential opponent. Negotiations began on 19 December between Donaire's promoter Richard Schaefer and Frank Warren. On 21 December, the fight was officially announced by Frank Warren via the BoxNation Facebook page to take place on 21 April 2018 at the SSE Arena, Belfast. A month before the fight, it was announced that the WBO Interim title would be at stake.
Frampton put on a defensive performance and beat Donaire in a unanimous decision, becoming the WBO interim featherweight champion. All three judges scored the fight 117-111 for Frampton. Frampton fought well to get a strong lead and after round 6 started to fight on the backfoot. In the later rounds, Donaire had more success hurting Frampton on a number of occasions, landing a hard left hook in round 11.
Donaire was cut over his right eye after an accidental clash of heads in round 7, with the referee failing to call a time out. After the fight, Frampton said on live television, "I didn't have to get involved in a fight there, as you saw in the last round Nonito Donaire is a dangerous motherfucker. I survived the round and stuck to my game plan. The only thing on my mind is Windsor Park and I can't wait to get there." According to CompuBox Stats, Frampton landed 164 of 557 punches thrown (29%) and Donaire landed 104 of his 447 thrown (23%).
Frampton vs Jackson
On 1 May 2018, promoter Frank Warren announced that Windsor Park in Belfast had been booked for Frampton's next fight on 18 August. Although a big name was targeted, Frampton confirmed it would be unlikely. He also stated it would not be a World title fight. After former heavyweight World champion Tyson Fury defeated Sefer Seferi in his comeback fight on 9 June, Warren announced that Fury would also appear on the undercard. On 18 June, Frampton's opponent was confirmed to be unbeaten 33 year old Australian boxer Luke Jackson (16-0, 7 KOs), in a bout which would see Frampton defend his WBO interim belt. A professional since 2013, Jackson was undefeated in 16 fights going into the fight. Jackson came in light at 124.7 pounds. Frampton had to lose his shorts to make the featherweight limit of 126 pounds. In front of 24,000 fans, Frampton dominated Jackson in stopping him in round 9 after his corner threw in the towel. The fight was stopped at 1 minute and 21 seconds of the round. Frampton controlled the fight from the start and eventually put Jackson down with a body shot late in round 8. Jackson got up but continued to take shots. Jackson, had little success. After the fight, Frampton said, “This was unreal. The atmosphere was special, the crowd was fantastic and they made my dream come true. It was unbelievable from start to finish.” With the win, Frampton retained the WBO interim title. It was also Frampton's first stoppage win in 7 fights, since 2015. It was revealed a few days later that Jackson had ruptured his left ear drum in round 3 and his right ear drum in round 6. In a picture posted by Jackson, his right eye was swollen shut. Although he wanted to finish the fight, he respected his teams decision to stop the fight.
Frampton vs Warrington
Immediately after Frampton's win over Jackson, Warren announced that Frampton would be challenging IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington, who was also in attendance and entered the ring. Warren announced the fight would take place in December 2018 and shown live and exclusive on BT Sport Box Office, BT's new pay-per-view platform. On 28 August, Boxing Scene reported a press conference would take place in the coming weeks with the fight likely to take place at the Manchester Arena. Warren wanted the fight to take place in a stadium, however did not want any mandatories to get in the way as a stadium fight would likely take place in Spring 2019. It was reported that Frampton would earn around £2 million for the fight. On 15 September, the fight was officially announced to take place at the Manchester Arena on 22 December 2018.
Hailing from Belfast, a city known for its troubled history, Frampton wants to be remembered like Barry McGuigan, his former manager, who was seen as a symbol of peace during his fighting days. Despite being from the Republic, it was Northern Ireland where McGuigan's fights had most significance, unifying the people there despite the religious and political differences that existed between them.
"I want to be a legend," Frampton said in 2015. "Honestly, that's what I want to be, a legend in Irish sport. I think it's coming up to 30 years since Barry won his World title in Loftus Road against Pedroza and people are still talking about it. I want to be like that 30 years from now – people are talking about my fights with guys like Chris Avalos and Kiko Martinez in the pubs all over Ireland. That's what I intend to do. I want to create a legacy. I want to keep beating big names. I want to get big fights, bring them back to Belfast as much as possible, and keep winning." Speaking to the BBC, McGuigan said "Carl is doing what I did. He's a beacon for peace and reconciliation and represents the future of Northern Ireland."
In 2014, he claimed Frampton "could end up as the best Irish fighter there has ever been. He can go to featherweight and super featherweight. I don't know who the greatest Irish fighter is but if he gets the right fights he can really go as far as he wants to go." As a fighter, McGuigan was known for wearing a Dove on his shorts, as a representation of peace. He also had no national anthem played at his fights, he took up dual Irish-British citizenship which allowed him to fight for British Domestic titles, and he married a Protestant woman, all of which had huge significance at the time. It is hard to not draw comparisons, with Frampton following down an almost identical path. He too has even married a Catholic woman despite being Protestant, and he too has a large following of die hard fans from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds who attend his fights in large numbers.