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Frampton to return in August, likely in Philly, ahead of potential world-title clash with Valdez

‘The Jackal’ is all but guaranteed a shot at the WBO World featherweight title provided he can win on America’s East Coast.

Carl Frampton at a public workout in Belfast in 2018.
Carl Frampton at a public workout in Belfast in 2018.
Image: PressEye/Philip Magowan/INPHO

FORMER TWO-WEIGHT WORLD champion Carl Frampton will return to the ring in America under new promoters Top Rank on 10 August, with Philadelphia — and not Boston as previously mooted — the most likely destination.

‘The Jackal’ had briefly contemplated retirement following December’s close but uncontentious defeat to IBF World featherweight champion Josh Warrington, but in March signed a promotional deal with Bob Arum’s stable.

Arum had suggested Frampton would take to the ring in Boston on either 10 or 24 August, with a previously slated June date made impossible by the adjournment of his court case with another Irish boxing great, former manager Barry McGuigan.

It’s now understood that the 32-year-old featherweight will indeed headline a Top Rank card live on ESPN+ on 10 August, but at Philadelphia’s Liacouras Center as opposed to an arena in Boston. New York had also been considered, but confirmation of a Philly bout is expected in the coming days.

An opponent is also yet to be confirmed, but victory for Frampton [26-2, 15KOs] will lead to a shot at the WBO World featherweight title, currently held by Mexican puncher Oscar Valdez, in the winter.

(SP)US-LAS VEGAS-BOXING-WBO-FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE Oscar Valdez. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Valdez [26-0, 20KOs], who once trained alongside another Arum-promoted Belfast man in Michael Conlan in California, is a Top Rank stablemate of Frampton’s. He lost to Mullingar’s John Joe Nevin, the eventual silver medalist, in the bantamweight quarter-finals at London 2012.

Valdez made the sixth defence of his title with a win over Jason Sanchez in Reno two weekends ago but is reported to have struggled to make the 126-pound limit; he has fought at featherweight since turning pro post-London but now 28, has filled out significantly in the interim.

A move up to super-featherweight has been suggested. This would see Valdez vacate his title and would also likely mean Frampton face another opponent, probably Top Rank’s rising American star and Rio silver medalist Shakur Stevenson, for the unmanned belt.

However, Valdez’s manager Frank Espinoza recently confirmed that Frampton remains top of his fighter’s priorities.

“He asked me to fight with Carl Frampton — he wants that fight,” Espinoza said. “And the other option could be Josh Warrington, a unifying one, but the priority is Frampton.

Obviously we try to do the best for Valdez. We want him to listen to his body and where he feels better. Then, we will look for the best opportunities. But he has told us about Frampton. It is a fight that we know that the Irishman wants and of course Oscar wants. Hopefully we can achieve something.

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