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'One of us might never fight for a world title again': Frampton return confirmed for 21 April

Carl Frampton knows defeat against Nonito Donaire would likely spell the end of his time at world level.

Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

CARL FRAMPTON WILL face former four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire in Belfast on 21 April in a bid to earn a long sought-after world title shot in the summer.

‘The Jackal’ welcomes his fellow Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year (Donaire won the coveted award in 2012; Frampton in 2016) to the SSE Arena in what’s a make-or-break bout for both men, and one of the biggest ever to take place in Frampton’s hometown.

Victory for the 30-year-old Shore Road featherweight is far from a given, but would secure Frampton a shot at the winner of Lee Selby’s IBF world title defence versus Josh Warrington the following month.

The former is under no illusions as to the treacherous nature of his fight with ‘The Filipino Flash’, where defeat will likely spell the end for one participant as far as being a world-level entity in a stacked division.

“It’s a brilliant fight – a four-weight world champion against a two-weight world champion,” said Frampton.

Has a bigger ‘away’ fighter ever come to fight in Belfast before? I don’t think there’s been a bigger name than Nonito Donaire and he’s coming to fight a local guy in his hometown.

“But I think both of us are in the same situation – a slip-up here and one of us might never fight for a world title again. There’s a lot on the line for both guys.”

Carl Frampton in action against Horacio Garcia Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Frampton [24-1, 14KOs], who enters April’s contest on the back of a humdinger with former sparring partner Horacio Garcia, suffered his sole career defeat this time last year to Leo Santa Cruz, with whom he recently explained to The42 he’s more hopeful than ever that he can secure a rubber match.

First, however, he’ll face the winner of Selby-Warrington should he manage to overcome Donaire – likely fulfilling a childhood dream of fighting at Windsor Park in the process.

The all-British clash takes place in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds on 19 May, but ‘The Jackal’ is adamant his showdown with former pound-for-pound top-three operator Donaire is the more appealing of the two having watched Donaire’s remarkable career from afar.

“In terms of the size of a fight, it’s not for a world title but the winner of this fight will no doubt get a world title shot,” he said.

On the world stage, I think this is a bigger fight than Lee Selby against Josh Warrington, which is a world title fight, so it’s huge.

“He’s been at the top of four divisions, but he was in the same weight division as me for quite a while and he’s someone I’ve always kept an eye on. He’s someone I admire as well, and I think he’s a great fighter, but I think this is the perfect fight to get me ready for a world title fight in the summer.”

Donaire [38-4, 24KOs], meanwhile, has suffered three defeats in his last 10 bouts, albeit at the hands of legitimately world class opposition.

The 35-year-old Pinoy was unfortunate versus Jessie Magdaleno – a gym-mate of Michael Conlan’s – in his last world title outing, dropping a unanimous decision in what was a hugely entertaining and even bout, but in doing so proving he still had plenty of gas in the tank.

Vocal in his campaigning for a crack at Frampton since late last year, April will provide a first trip to Europe in The Flash’s 42-fight professional career.

“This is exactly the type of fight I live for — going in against one of the best in the world in the lion’s den of his hometown of Belfast,” said Donaire.

“I can’t wait for the first bell! I know I’ll have to be the best I can be on fight night. Make no mistake, I’m already training like never before.”

Tickets for Frampton v Donaire will be available to purchase from the SSE Arena Belfast Box Office, www.ssearenabelfast.com and 0044(0)28 9073 9074 from 10am on Thursday, 11 January. Prices range from £40 (tier) to £400 (inner-ring hospitality). Tickets will also be available from MTK Global fighters on the bill.

‘I get this message from Santa Cruz, and I’m trying to work it out in my head, like, ‘what time is it in LA? I think he must be on the drink!

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