Super featherweight Carl Frampton taking his shot at boxing history

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4 min read

There is a great tradition of boxing in Ireland, and through the years there have been some great fighters who have hailed from there.

But if Carl Frampton defeats Jamel Herring at Caesars Palace in Dubai in a bout streamed live on ESPN+ and captures Herring’s WBO super featherweight title, he’ll become the first Irishman to win world championships in three weight classes.

Frampton is not a man prone to exaggeration or hyperbole. But he is almost beside himself at the thought of doing something no other Irishman has ever done.

“It’s huge. It’s monumental. It’s a chance for me to become the only ever Irishman to become a three-weight world champion,” Frampton said. “[I’d be] one of the only British fighters to ever do it. It’s absolutely huge. It would mean so much to me, but also to my family and the people who have helped me in any way, shape or form from the start of my career as a young 7-year-old who walked through the amateur club doors. It’s huge, and I’d join an elite list of fighters who became three-weight world champions.”

Even in this era when titles are diluted and there are so many given out, Frampton’s potential achievement stands out. He first won the IBF super bantamweight title in 2014 when he defeated Kiko Martinez. That feat, in and of itself, was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 27: Carl Frampton poses for portraits inside the bubble at the MGM Grand on November 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Carl Frampton is aiming to become the first Irishman to win world championships in three weight classes. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

But two years later, he affirmed his bona fides when he defeated the great Leo Santa Cruz in an epic battle in New York to become the WBA featherweight champion.

Frampton, though, wasn’t satisfied. He knew he was capable of more. By his own admission, he wasn’t very good when he began, but he loved to box and he learned, and by sheer force of will, he made himself into a fighter.

Herring has long been a fan of Frampton’s and said a win Saturday would be significant for him because of the man he’s facing.

“I’ve always been a fan of Carl’s,” Herring said. “He was named Fighter of the Year at one point and he knows what it takes to win title fights. He wants to make history and his legacy is already cemented. He didn’t need this fight, as win, lose or draw, he’ll go down as one of the best. But a win here for me solidifies me as a legitimate super featherweight world champion.”

Frampton is an ever-so-slight favorite at BetMGM, where he is a -115 to win the title. Herring is -105.

Frampton is brimming with confidence now, but it wasn’t always the case. Midway through his career, he wasn’t sure he’d win one title, let alone have a chance to make history and win one in three separate divisions.

He’s making the bid for his third title at 34, a previously unheard of age for fighters in the lower weight classes. But like many modern boxers, Frampton’s focus on taking care of his body and committing to a world-class strength and conditioning program has extended his career.

“I’m living the lifestyle now,” Frampton said. “Pre-30, I enjoyed a drink and I enjoyed and I enjoyed the things that people do. … But I’m living the life of a professional athlete.”

The result is that he’s retained his speed and quickness even as he’s hit that age where it starts to get away from a fighter.

And he feels he’s even peaking as he gets nearer to fight night. He called the sparring work he’s done in preparation for Herring the best of his career.

“I know that’s a big statement because I’ve done some big things in my career, but my decision-making in sparring has been better than it’s ever been,” he said. “I’ve been fighting with my head rather than my heart the whole way through this camp, and I think that’s going to be very, very important in this fight and it’s something I’ll be able to use to my benefit.”

If he wins, though, his big heart will show. There will be an expression of joy from Frampton that will be memorable, to say the least.

And he’ll be committed to the history books as arguably the best from his country to ever do it.

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