Carl Frampton says he had made the decision to retire after he lost to Josh Warrington in 2018, before reconsidering after he re-evaluated the performance.
Frampton lost a unanimous decision to Warrington in Manchester for the IBF featherweight title three days before Christmas in 2018 and felt that was the end of his career. But he changed his mind and bids for a third world title when he challenges Jamel Herring for the WBO super-featherweight title in Dubai on Saturday.
“I was retired in my head after the Warrington fight without announcing anything,” Frampton said. “I thought I was a retired fighter and that was it. But who would have thought sitting in the changing room after the Josh Warrington fight that I’d be on the verge of fighting for a world title in the third division and Josh Warrington would have lost to an unheard of Mexican? It’s a strange game is boxing,
“The Warrington fight was a very bad performance by me. But I knew there was a lot more left, once I thought about it rationally. It was an under-par performance rather than me being over the hill. And I’m going to prove that on Saturday.”
Frampton said he had made the mistake of under-estimating Warrington, even though he was challenging for Warrington’s title.
“I knew I was better than I had shown,” he said. “I performed very well in sparring for that fight. I just under-estimated him. I under-estimated his punching power, I knew it was going to be a difficult fight but I didn’t think he could hurt me. That thought went out of my head after about 30 seconds.
“It was a mistake from me and the things I was doing I camp showed me I was still a good fighter. I just got it wrong, It is the high end of sport, some you win some you lose. After I thought about it rationally, I came to the conclusion that I could win another world title.”
It is ten months since Frampton and Herring were first supposed to have boxed. The pandemic put paid to that date and then there were further delays as first Herring caught COVID-19 and then Frampton suffered a hand injury.
Frampton had operations on both hands at the end of 2019, although he insists the recent injury was not a problem.
“The hands are 100 percent,” he said. “I finished sparring last week, I did 12 rounds of pads on Friday, my last hard punching session, my hands are absolutely fine. I had a wee twinge a couple of months ago, it was nothing serious and a bit of rest sorted that out. Since then I have probably done another 35 rounds of sparring since then and they have been fine.
“I think the delay has helped me because he has had to hold the weight. People talk about my age, but he is two years older than me. Because he is such a big specimen, it’s not done him any favors. He has only got out to Dubai a week before the fight. Where he trains is an 11-hour time difference. I have been out here for three weeks.”
Both have had experience of boxing behind closed doors and Frampton does not believe that the loss of a home crowd will be telling.
“I don’t know if it is going to make much of a difference where it is, either in front of a big crowd in Belfast or a handful in Dubai,” he said. “Because it is such a big fight and I am ready for a big fight, atmosphere or not. I will be putting in my best performance.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.