Now that Carl Frampton has a world title, how far can he go with it?
Timing can be everything in Boxing and for Carl Frampton (19-0) the timing couldn’t be any better. He is right now in a position he would have picked as his ideal scenario when he first turned pro six years ago. A week past his 28th birthday, the Belfast man is going into his 20th fight, the star attraction of his division and defending his IBF title for the first time.
From the offset, the McGuigan’s matching of the Belfast man has been ambitious but realistic, and it was done with an eye of getting him to where he is right now. Frampton, as he approaches his fighting prime, is ready to chase the big fights. He has the experience to do it and the support behind him to make them happen. There is something else though that makes Saturday’s clash with mandatory challenger Chris Avalos potentially another major breakthrough night for Frampton – the backing of terrestrial TV.
The ITV network will screen Frampton/Avalos in the UK and Ireland making it their first foray into Boxing since 2010 and marking the first time Frampton has fought on free to view television. After his European title winning performance against Kiko Martinez in February 2013, Frampton made the move from Sky to BoxNation, where he fought his three fights since, including the Martinez rematch last September, in which he won his world title.
It was in many ways a shrewd move by the team. While it limited TV exposure temporarily, the deal gave Frampton and McGuigan a level of control over his career direction that they wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. It allowed them to run regular self-promoted shows in Belfast and grow the brand locally. It worked, as Frampton emerged as the hottest ticket seller in his weight class and one of the biggest local attractions in the sport. That type of support opens up options – options like this deal with ITV.
Boxing has had a tempestuous relationship with terrestrial TV in the UK in recent times. BBC and ITV have both flirted on/off with coverage – usually to some initial success, but then gradually fizzling out long-term. Channel 5, the lesser established of the terrestrial networks, has been carrying occasional shows for the last few years, and still seem to be trying to optimize their approach to the sport.
The difficulty has been in maintaining the right balance between output and viewers. A mainstream network requires major names and big fights to draw in audiences. That can be done with the right match ups, but it can be tough to reproduce that formula over and over again. While a promoter can put their best foot forward initially and lead with their marquee names, their roster dilutes fast when they have dates to fill; making it difficult to sustain over the long haul.
The advantage Cyclone Promotions have here is that it is a company built around Carl Frampton. They’re not going to be targeting a heavy output schedule. They don’t need ten shows a year. They have their headliner and they only need air time when he’s boxing. Essentially, ITV will be in the Carl Frampton business, and The Jackal might just be the type of star that can make it work for them. The increased exposure could enable him to expand out on his local popularity.
For that to happen though, he must first see past Chris Avalos (25-2). This isn’t a soft mandatory either. Avalos is a genuine top 10, and arguably even top 5, super bantamweight. At 25, he’s still an improving fighter and he’s unbeaten in his last six against decent competition. He pressures well and his punch power is real. The two loses on his record were both splits, so he’s never been comprehensively beaten before. Neither of the fighters who shaded past him were at Frampton’s level, but Avalos has himself come on a lot since then too.
I’m expecting Avalos to be game here and try to take the fight to the hometown boy. I just think he will find himself a little out of his depth. Frampton is the more astute boxer. He’s smarter, more skilled and defensively superior. Avalos is always there to be hit. He will get picked apart on the counter and the weight of Frampton’s punches will gradually grind him down. Frampton has always fought with supreme confidence and being a champion now will only strengthen that belief. He will look to put on a show for TV viewers tuning in to see him for the first time and will finish this off in style in the second half of the fight. Carl Frampton is well poised to make the big fights in the division. The unification bouts with Quigg, Santa Cruz and Rigondeaux are out-there for him. He puts this to bed and moves on to those.
Prediction: Frampton KO 9