Carl Frampton earned the interim WBO featherweight title with a clear unanimous decision victory over former four-division world champion Nonito Donaire from SSE Arena in Belfast. All three judges scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Frampton.
Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs), of Belfast, was the sharper fighter from the opening bell and imposed his will on the veteran Donaire (38-5, 24 KOs) in front of his hometown fans. Frampton controlled the distance well and was strong on the inside, landing a fierce right hand that caused swelling to Donaire’s left eye in the second round.
Donaire showed glimpses of why he was named the consensus 2012 Fighter of the Year, landing a vicious uppercut in the seventh and a big left hand in the latter stages of round number 11 that hurt Frampton.
However, the hometown favorite was comfortable throughout the majority of the match, using his jab efficiently and implementing the gameplan of trainer Jamie Moore to perfection.
The victory puts Frampton in position to challenge WBO Featherweight Champion Oscar Valdez, who is recovering from injury following his fourth title defense, a unanimous decision win over Scott Quigg on March 10.
“I think Jamie deserves a lot of credit because the gameplan was perfect,” said Frampton. “As you saw in the 11th round, Nonito Donaire is a dangerous opponent. I survived the round and stuck to the gameplan. At times, my boxing was beautiful.
“Donaire was a sharp puncher throughout. I was definitely hurt in the 11th round, people could see it. But champions survive and that’s what I did. The only thing on my mind is fighting at Windsor Park. I can’t wait to get there”
Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum, who handles Valdez, told The42 that his boxer has no problem traveling for a fight with Frampton.
“Frampton’s promoter now, Frank Warren, is a very, very good friend of ours,” Arum said. “We do a lot of business together.
“Frank has mentioned it. Oscar – I’ve talked to him, and he wants to fight Frampton. I know he [Valdez] is recovering from the broken jaw that he got in the [Scott] Quigg fight – heck of a fight – but Valdez versus Frampton will not be difficult to make.
"It’s really a question of how the money breaks down. As long as we get neutral officials, Valdez would have no problem going to Belfast. But the fight would also be a tremendous attraction whether it be in Los Angeles or in Las Vegas. So we’d have to see. I’ll sit down with Frank and we’ll figure out what makes the most sense.”