Josh Warrington(27-0 6kos) defends his IBF Featherweight title against former unified Super- Bantamweight and former Featherweight champion Carl Frampton(26-1 15kos) at the Manchester Arena on BT Sport Box Office in the UK and ESPN+ in the US.
Some fighters develop into world superstars, think: Floyd Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez and more recently Anthony Joshua, others never quite reach those heights and are forever forgotten on the sidelines think: Andre Ward, Guillermo Rigondeaux or Erislandy Lara, but some fighters develop cult status and both these fighters while not being widely known in their own country, let alone worldwide, have a very dedicated sect of fans that always turn out in force to support them and result in some of the best atmospheres in boxing today.
Let’s start with the more established fighter Frampton then. Frampton is at an unusual position in his career. Since having lost to Leo Santa Cruz in the rematch in early 2017 Frampton has had three pretty routine fights, most notably against Nonito Donaire and won them all comfortably, but there is a sense that at 31 perhaps the Belfast man is on the decline despite being a favourite coming into this fight. Frampton being billed as the favourite is really a combination of elements, most obviously is his boxing skill. Standing at 5 foot 5 Frampton is short even at Featherweight but rarely does he find himself marching forward trying to close the range, he is far better sitting back and dictating from distance using a probing lead hand that can set up straight rights or left hooks.
📝 RUNNING ORDER 📝
What a night of boxing we have in store for you on Saturday night 😎
— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) December 21, 2018
You only need to watch a few Frampton rounds to see that Adam Booth style out of Frampton, and despite him now being trained by Jamie Moore you can still see that David Haye, George Groves similarity. One of the combinations that Frampton loves to throw is a 1, 2, 1, Frampton very often finishes with a jab often leaving the hand out to stiff arm the opponent to maintain the range, and when he is at his best Frampton is very very difficult to outbox and catch clean regularly. When he has had his troubles they have often come against pressure fighters and late in fights. That Booth style of maintaining range and leaping in with hard counters is a great style for winning rounds when you’re sharp but to keep that sharpness, and to keep edging in and out of range is a difficult one to sustain and Frampton has been culpable of having his back to the ropes in fights and being swarmed, though he has never been truly overran before.
— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) December 21, 2018
This is where Josh Warrington and his Leeds fans will look to capitalise. Warrington like Frampton is a rather unusual fighter. Take a look at his record you see the 6 knockouts you see the decent 5 foot 7 height and you assume he’s a back foot operator, but in reality he’s more of an Anthony Crolla type style in hands high, tight guard, ducking down to avoid the jab and a high work rate on the inside. While Warrington wasn’t considered much beyond a fringe contender, in what is a stacked division, this all changed after the Lee Selby fight. Selby found out first hand, that if you don’t have the power to deter the Leeds man, though the punches from Warrington aren’t one punch KO punches just the intensity of the attacks and the volume can overwhelm you.
If Warrington is going to win this fight, most likely it’ll be down the stretch. Though Warrington does have underrated boxing skills and is in no way simply a come forward fighter I can’t see anything else other than Frampton winning the early rounds. It may indeed look ugly early on with Warrington’s trying to maneuver himself into position and Frampton just looking to maintain distance, but Frampton’s skills should be enough to keep the Leed’s man honest, but for how long.
Looking at Frampton’s fights it is hard to avoid that his gas tank isn’t exactly his strongest point and while I do see the fight going to points, I do see Warrington finishing the fight stronger. The question is for how long Frampton can spend boxing Warrington’s ears off before Warrington has a chance to maul on the inside. Personally, I don’t see Warrington being able to get past the guard of Frampton often enough to land himself the win, because mainly unlike Selby Frampton should have the power to at least keep Warrington honest for the first portion of the fight. I can see Frampton having issues with the foot speed of Warrington but that lead hand combined with an educated amount of holding should be enough to win the fight by about 4 rounds despite Warrington having a strong final period.
If boxing in the US is supposedly in such a bad state, they should really be taking a leaf from the Brits here with two fighters in a low division becoming the poster boys for their city drawing of thousands to stadium fights, and it’s this type of passion not corporate deals or money-making sponsorships that drive the sport we love and hopefully these city versus city fights will become more of a fixture I the future..
On the undercard Billy Joe Saunders 26 (12 KOs)-0-0 has his first fight since his drug testing scandal in an 8 rounder against Charles Adamu 32 (25 KOs)-13 (1 KO)-0, and two honest professionals not scared of being the underdog face off in the Middleweight division as Martin Murray 37 (17 KOs)-4 (1 KO)-1 fights Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam 36 (21 KOs)-3 (1 KO)-0.