Frampton is ready to roar

The iceberg that is Kiko Martinez will be in the opposite corner to Carl Frampton tonight, in a ring which stands on the slipway from which the Titanic was launched.

Frampton is ready to roar

A made-to-measure 16,000-seater arena has been constructed at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter as a hometown boy challenges for the IBF super-bantamweight championship of the world.

But while Frampton has previously negotiated the obstacle that is Martinez, defeating the Spaniard by way of ninth-round knockout at the Odyssey Arena last year, the destination was different and the waters are decidedly choppier this time around.

The bookmakers rate the 27-year-old challenger as a 2/9 favourite, despite the fact that 28-year-old Martinez is undefeated in four fights since his loss to Frampton, with that run including his surprise world-title stoppage win over then champion Jhonatan Romero in August, 2013.

“I’m just going to predict a win,” said Frampton, who carries an undefeated 18-0 record. “I have the power to take him out and if the chance arises, I’ll take it.

“I believe I’m the hardest punching super-bantamweight in the world, and I also have a massive engine, but more importantly (I have) a big set of balls as well because it may take them in this fight. It could get brutal because he’s tough.”

His backroom team, however, have hinted they expect much the same from Martinez, an aggressive come-forward fighter, as their first meeting.

On that occasion, Frampton dictated terms, picking off the Spaniard who pursued his opponent in vain until his knockout defeat.

“He’s won the title which gave him confidence but he’s the same fighter. I look at him and when we’ve analysed his performances, they’re exactly the same,” said McGuigan. “He comes at you, that’s his game — coming at you, throwing loads of punches, setting a high pace, walking you down and engaging you as best as he can.”

Passions are running high in Belfast, though, with yesterday’s weigh-in finally breaking a tense week after a quiet press conference, resulting in a pushing match between the pugilists in front of a wild crowd at Belfast’s historic Ulster Hall.

“I look into his (Martinez’s) eyes and I know he’s here to win and that unnerves me,” said McGuigan.

“He’s emboldened by the fact that he won the title. He’s had two defences of the title and he wants to come back and get revenge.”

The champion had been in a reserved mood this week, seemingly fighting against an instinct to engage in verbal jibes after foolishly dismissing Frampton’s chances in the build-up to their first bout.

“I’m confident,” said Martinez, who knocked out Dubliner Bernard Dunne in one round in 2007. “I’m not going to be complacent. I know it’s going to be a very tough fight, I’m prepared for it.”

Also prepared for it is that fervent Belfast crowd as they seek to embrace their icon before he potentially transforms into a worldwide star. Hailing from the Tiger’s Bay area of Belfast, Frampton, a former Ireland amateur international, has managed to attract cross-community support, and is a uniting figure in the city.

“I’m very honoured and humbled that people from all over the place are coming out to support me,” said Frampton.

“People forget, I’m the challenging here. Kiko’s the champ and to be selling out 16,000 seats as the challenger for a world title is unbelievable.”

* Live on BoxNation (subscription) from 7pm — Martinez v Frampton fight schedule d for around 10.30pm.

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