By Terence Dooley
There was a healthy amount of mutual respect on show in Belfast today as Carl Frampton (24-1, 14 KOs) and Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24 KOs) lavished each other with praise when formally announcing their April 21 showdown at the city’s SSE Arena venue, which will be shown live on BT Sport here in the U.K.
Despite talk that this has been set-up to allow Frampton to shine following the criticism following his hard-fought 10-round decision win over Horacio Garcia in November, the 30-year-old former IBF World and WBA World Super bantamweight, and WBA Super world featherweight titlist has vowed to put aside thoughts of meeting the winner of Lee Selby against Josh Warrington, who contest Selby’s IBF title in May, to one side so as not to overlook his Filipino opponent.
“Donaire is a future Hall of Fame fighter,” stated Frampton, pointing out that the 35-year-old has held the IBF’s flyweight belt, the WBO and WBC bantamweight titles, the WBO and IBF’s Super bantamweight belts, and the WBA featherweight title.
“For maybe four years, I've been approached by Filipinos in the street asking when I'm going to fight him. He can punch, but not only can he punch, I've seen him put people to sleep before. It definitely gives me the fear factor.
“I think that last fight is going to be a blessing in disguise for me. It's better to be pushed and get the rounds in. The last fight has certainly set me up for this one. Selby and Warrington fight soon. We're both with the same team, but there's only one guy on my mind at the minute. I'll need to be switched on from start to finish.”
Now trained by Salford’s Jamie Moore, Frampton spends his weekdays in England with the former British, Commonwealth and EBU light-middleweight champion; Moore believes that his charge will be a different proposition in their second fight together.
“It's always a learning process and the spotlight's always on the trainer when working with someone with a profile like the one Carl has,” said Moore. “He got rid of the ring rust [against Garcia] and that will stand him in good stead for this fight.
“These are the sort of tests you need to bring the best out of you. There are certain breeds of character where you can't teach certain attributes. One of them is heart and the will to win. We've seen from both these guys that they dig deep and go at it.”
“I've been doubted more than I've ever been by some people,” added Frampton. “This will answer a lot of questions and prove to people I've still got a lot left. I desperately want to win this fight because I can see what's in front of me.”
Donaire’s visit to Northern Ireland has come at a time when the weather is particularly bracing. However, the four-weight world titlist revealed that he has had a warm welcome from the city’s knowledgeable fight fans, saying: “The first moment I got to Belfast it was definitely cold. I never thought it was that cold. I was absolutely blown away by how kind the people are.”
“I've had a lot of great moments,” he added, turning his attention to the fight itself and underlining his impressive credentials. “I won my first title against Vic Darchinyan in 2007 [the IBF flyweight title]. Then the [Fernando] Montiel fight was one of those where I had the right game-plan [to win the WBO and WBC’s bantamweight belts]. Now Frampton, who is an incredible fighter: he can box and he can fight with power. He's someone you can't take lightly.”
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