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Frampton admits to 'a wee bit of fear factor' as he gears up for make-or-break clash with Donaire

Carl Frampton says his upcoming scrap with Nonito Donaire will prove there’s still plenty left in the tank.

Image: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

CARL FRAMPTON’S CAREER hangs in the balance and the Belfast featherweight admits he’ll be putting it all on the line against a dangerous foe on 21 April at the SSE Arena in his home city of Belfast.

In his second fight since leaving long-time manager Barry McGuigan and linking up with Frank Warren, ‘The Jackal’ takes on Filipino four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire [38-4, 24 KOs], live on BT Sport and BoxNation, in three months’ time.

The two fighters came face to face for the first time this afternoon at a press conference in the Europa Hotel.

Refreshingly, and for the second fight in a row for Frampton, there will be no trinkets – Intercontinental or otherwise – on the line in a clash between two former World Fighters of the Year (Frampton stood apart in 2016, while the same honours were bestowed upon Donaire in 2012).

The 12-rounder, though, is still a fight of major significance, operating essentially – and perhaps officially where the WBO is concerned – as a world-title final eliminator.

The winner will most likely face whoever emerges victorious from an all-British IBF world title fight between Welsh champion Lee Selby and Leeds-born mandatory challenger Josh Warrington in May, though March’s WBO title bout between champion Oscar Valdez – a stablemate of Mick Conlan – and former Frampton foe Scott Quigg may yet see those plans altered.

In any case, should Frampton emerge victorious, he’s a dead cert to finally fulfil the dream of a long-promised fight at Windsor Park, with the venue tentatively booked for August.

Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire meet for the first time at today's Belfast presser. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Former two-weight champion Frampton [24-1, 14 KOs] sees the bout as a must-win as he approaches his 31st birthday next month, and is invigorated by a bout with the former pound-for-pound star.

Frampton described how his opponent is, in his own opinion, “the biggest away fighter ever to fight in Belfast.”

“I need fights like this to get up for [it]: I need names, and what better name than Nonito Donaire? He’s an amazing talent, a four-weight world champion, he can punch – and when I say he can punch, he doesn’t just knock them over, he puts guys to sleep.

That gives me a wee bit of a fear factor and I think that’s when I’m going to be at my best. He’s got devastating KO power and that’s the last thing to leave any fighter, their punch power. I’ll need to be on my game, switched on, from start to finish.

“My objective is to win a world title. I’m hoping to fight for a world title in the summer. What better opponent to get you ready for doing that than a guy like Nonito Donaire?

“I’m a good fighter, I’ve won big things. What’s the point of fighting knock-over jobs?”

Carl Frampton Carl Frampton knows defeat to Nonito Donaire will likely end his world title dream Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

After scoring a hard-fought win over unheralded Mexican Horacio Garcia on his ring return in November just gone, Frampton believes the commotion of the past 12 months – a first defeat, a fight cancellation, splits with manager, trainer and promoters and a tough comeback tussle – has set him up for a big performance, and one which could secure his dream night.

The Jackal said: “Initially after the [Garcia] fight I was probably a wee bit critical of myself, but considering the year I had, looking back, it wasn’t a bad performance.

“I was trying things out, things we’d been working on in the gym. There was things I wasn’t doing so well, but we were working on things from the gym – and that’s the thing.”

Against an opponent like Horacio Garcia, you can try things in the fight. Against Nonito, you can’t try new things: things need to happen well. I think the last fight is going to be a blessing in disguise for me.

“It’s better to go in and have a fight like that where you are pushed hard and you get the rounds in, rather than having a one or two-round knock-over job.

“The last fight has certainly set me up for this one. This will prove that I’ve still got a lot left.

“There is a lot on the line. I spoke to Frank Warren – and he’s talking about trying to make this fight a final eliminator for the WBO as well – that’s another option.

Obviously, Selby and Warrington can happen – we’re all with the same team. Quigg-Valdez, the winner of that potentially as well. But there’s only one fight I’m focused on at the minute and if I don’t win this fight, these things can’t happen.

“I can see the carrot dangling in front of me, of Windsor Park.”

Nonito Donaire Former pound-for-pound star Donaire needs a victory to remain relevant at boxing's top end. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

35-year-old Donaire, a veteran of 16 world title bouts (to Frampton’s six), last held a major belt in 2016.

The fight, his second since moving back up in weight following his failed WBO World super-bantamweight title defence against Jessie Magdaleno – another Mick Conlan gym-mate – 14 months ago, could be perceived as a last stand at world level for ‘The Filipino Flash’.

Donaire is long enough in the tooth to know a crossroads bout when he sees one:

“This is definitely a make or break kind of fight,” he said. “It is a must-win situation for me.

“Carl is an incredible fighter. He’s also a fighter that can box and fight with good power. In a way, we are similar in our ways of fighting. There are a lot of similarities in terms of being able to do a lot of things.

Going back to what Carl has done, we need a person who we can truly respect. It allows the warrior within us to come out, and that will show if we do have it. At the moment, age is only but a number for me, because I’m very inspired to be here.

The undercard for Frampton-Donaire will also feature three tantalising all-Irish scraps which were confirmed by MTK Global earlier this afternoon.

Three thrilling all-Irish fights confirmed for Frampton-Donaire card in Belfast

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