Returning Frampton ready to roll the dice

Returning Frampton ready to roll the dice
Carl Frampton poses for a photograph during a media workout at Hatton Health & Fitness at on November 12, 2018 in Hyde, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Carl Frampton is no stranger to Las Vegas.

Almost three years have passed since he first bowled through Sin City in early 2017, his maiden visit having followed up a career-best win over Leo Santa Cruz six months prior.

Santa Cruz would once again reprise the role of dance partner, though this time it was the Mexican who assumed the lead.

With that turning of the tables came Frampton’s first defeat, the then unbeaten world titlist resigned to departing Nevada none the richer.

Saturday sees the Ulsterman spin the roulette wheel once more, designs on three-division domination now the driving force.

A further renewal of hostilities with newly-crowned super-featherweight king Santa Cruz would seem an easy sell in that regard. Frampton, for his part, is loath to hold out much hope.

“I’ve forgotten about it already,’’ says the 32-year-old of a potential rematch.

“I genuinely don’t think that fight will happen. If you listen to Santa Cruz, the names he’s been mentioning, none of these match-ups have materialised. I don’t think he’ll fight any of these guys. If you look through his career carefully, he’s had a pretty handy career. He’s been well looked after.

“He had a fight against me where he lost, and then one where he won, but he’s been running ever since. He hasn’t wanted to return the favour. I’ve given up thinking about it now. For me, it’s about this weekend.”

Indeed, even getting to this point has proven a prickly process, a December 2018 defeat to Josh Warrington ostensibly threatening to spell the end for one of Irish boxing’s most glittering careers.

“Initially after the Warrington fight, in my head, I was a retired fighter”, reflects The Jackal.

“But the more I thought about it, that wasn’t me that night. I know I’m still better than that. I don’t want to discredit Josh, he beat me fair and square, but I under-performed.

“I’ve had a great career, and I wouldn’t want to go out like that. ”

August had been earmarked for the comeback trail until the hazard of happenstance derailed those plans, a freakish accident leaving Frampton’s Philadelphia hotel with a broken ornament and the Belfast man with a broken hand.

“I was upset, angry, sad. I was confused. My head was done, it really genuinely annoyed me. It just felt like a waste, being away from my family when I could have been spending time with them, and instead was training for a fight that never happened.

“It was tough, but if I’m going to take anything from it, I had a full training camp, and it’s benefited me going into this weekend.

“Tyler McCreary, my opponent on Saturday, he’s undefeated, and he’s a lot younger than me. He’s taller, with a decent fast jab. But, looking at him, he likes to get things all his own way. He likes to dictate the pace, but it’s when he gets a bit of pressure put on him, that’s when he starts to unravel and fall apart.

“But I know that I’m 100% in for a tough fight, that he’ll try to keep it long. It’s up to me to be able to work my way around that and get on the inside. I must win this fight to keep my plans on track to become a three-weight world champion.”

Talk of a potential tilt at the WBO’s 130lb title has begun in earnest, it’s incumbent holder Jamel Herring chief among that chatter. The 34-year-old has also expressed an openness to taking on Frampton in Belfast, a prospect to which the potential challenger seems entirely partial.

“If that were to come off … that would be what dreams are made of, really.

“Windsor Park wasn’t something I was really considering, because I am not holding the belt this time. Herring is the champion, he is from New York, so it would make sense to have the fight there, I thought.

“But whereas in New York the event sells okay, in Belfast we’d sell-out in a day. It’s a chance for me to make history.

“For now though, that will have to wait. I must first get past McCreary. He’s coming to win and I have to beat him, or everything falls apart again.

“A year out of the ring is a long time, and I know people have been talking about that, but I’ve been training pretty much all year, I’ve had a good camp, and I’m looking forward to putting on a show.”

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