Carl Frampton is set for what literally represents his biggest challenge to date.
The former two-division champion ventured into uncharted territory in his career, as he faces late replacement Darren “Trayn-Wreck” Traynor in a scheduled 10-round lightweight contest. Both boxers easily made weight for their headlining act, which takes place Saturday evening from a crowdless BT Sport Studio lot in East London (ESPN, 4:00pm ET).
Belfast’s Frampton (27-2, 15KOs) checked in at a career-heaviest—though well-proportioned 134.4 pounds for his first fight of 2020. Traynor—a 33-year old lightweight from Aberdeen, Scotland)—weighed 134.25 pounds for a bout he accepted on late notice after Armenia’s Vahram Vardanyan (21-1-1, 14KOs) was forced to withdraw due to an inability to secure a travel visa in time for the event.
A win for Frampton on Saturday will pave the way for a long-sought crack at reigning 130-pound titlist Jamel Herring (21-2, 10KOs), tentatively scheduled to take place this November in the United States (likely in Las Vegas). Herring is first due to face Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo on September 5, marking the third time their bout has been rescheduled.
Plans for a June 13 clash between Herring and Frampton—which was to have taken place in Belfast—were stalled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Frampton has been out of the ring since a 10-round shutout of unbeaten Tyler McCreary last November in his unofficial junior lightweight debut—the bout took place at a 128-pound catchweight.
Prior to the contest, Frampton fought primarily at junior featherweight and featherweight where he enjoyed championship reigns.
The evening’s chief support will mark what is likely the last ever featherweight fight for Michael Conlan, as he faces France’s Sofiane Takoucht (35-4-1, 13KOs).
Conlan—a two-time Olympian and 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist from Belfast—weighed a shredded 126.25 pounds for the 10-round clash. Takoucht showed up at a fighting fit 126.6 pounds for his first fight since a 2nd round knockout loss to unbeaten featherweight titlist Josh Warrington last October.
Following Saturday’s bout, Conlan (13-0, 7KOs) will embark on a career path opposite that of Frampton. Whereas his fellow Belfastian steadily moves up in weight, Conlan plans to drop down to the junior featherweight division with the expectation of challenging for a major title at the new weight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox