By Jake Donovan
Carl Frampton is Philly bound.
The former two-division titlist from Belfast, Northern Ireland will headline the August 10 edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+, which BoxingScene.com has learned will stream live from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Penn.
ESPN.com senior boxing writer Dan Rafael was the first to report Frampton returning to the ring and the United States on that date.
An opponent has yet to be named for the occasion, but the intention—beyond it serving as Frampton’s official debut under the Top Rank banner—is to build towards a showdown with unbeaten featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez later this year.
There has been talk of Valdez—who defended his title in a 12-round decision over previously undefeated Jason Sanchez earlier this month—eventually moving up to the 130-pound division. However, Frank Espinoza, Valdez’s longtime manager has confirmed that the intention is stay at featherweight long enough at least for this fight to materialize.
Of course, Frampton (26-2, 15KOs) will be best served to first resume his winning ways.
The 32-year old has fought three times in the U.S., the events featuring the best and a little bit of the worst of his career. He found himself on the canvas twice in the opening round of his first fight on American soil, though eventually prevailing in a July 2015 decision win over the late Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.
Things went much better for Frampton in his next fight on this side of the pond, scoring a 12-round win over Leo Santa Cruz in their July 2016 thriller. The win came five months after his final fight at 122 pounds, prevailing via split decision in his title unification clash versus longtime rival Scott Quigg. The two wins—the latter over Santa Cruz netting Frampton the featherweight title—garnered him universal recognition as 2016 Fighter of the Year.
It hasn’t been quite as glorious in the aftermath.
Frampton suffered his first career defeat in dropping a 12-round decision to Santa Cruz in their Jan. 2017 rematch. Three wins have followed, including am April 2018 points win over Nonito Donaire which has aged remarkably well given Donaire’s subsequent run as a current finalist in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament.
His most recent outing doesn’t quite carry the same spin, as he was thoroughly outboxed in an entertaining but clear-cut defeat to reigning unbeaten featherweight titlist Josh Warrington last December in England.
Interestingly, Frampton’s first career fight in Philadelphia will carry another featherweight fight where an opponent is needed.
ESPN.com has reported that the evening’s chief support will feature Jessie Magdaleno, who will return to the Liacouras Center for the first time since losing his 122-pound titlist to Isaac Dogboe in this very venue last April. He has since rebounded with a pedestrian 10-round win over Rico Ramos this past March.
Frampton’s stateside return comes one week after fellow Belfast native Michael Conlan headlines at home on ESPN+.
The two appearing on the same show wasn’t considered, nor was Frampton fighting at home on the date one week later. There were talks of his possibly fighting in New York City but was ultimately deemed more economically feasible to stage the event in Philadelphia, which boasts the third largest Irish/Irish-American population among U.S. metropolitan cities.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox