Boxing: El Paso a new frontier for Carl Frampton as he faces Alejandro Gonzalez

It’s an escape route as old and worn as prizefighting itself. Over 300 years of identical journeys to the one Carl Frampton has taken, seeking a new life in the New World.

Boxing: El Paso a new frontier for Carl Frampton as he faces Alejandro Gonzalez

There are two key differences though. For a start, not many Irish emigrants chose the dust-blown banks of the Rio Grande as their starting point for that new life and not many, if any, had it so good in back in the old world.

Belfast’s IBF world champion is 24 hours away from reaching the first significant staging post of his American journey.

Tomorrow night in El Paso, Texas - within touching distance of Mexico - Frampton will take on Alejandro Gonzalez Jr, defending his super bantamweight title and attacking his new frontier.

So far the signs have been good. More than good. The fight is on a day-night double bill in the border city with Frampton the matinee show’s headline act. The night time’s feature fight brings Julio Cesar Chavez Jr back to a land where his father’s name is worshipped. But the great and good of the US boxing media have eyes for just one of the headline acts.

“It’s been great so far,” says Frampton. “We were on a conference call the other day and I ended up getting 40 minutes of questions and Chavez Jr got five, so that was a pleasant surprise.

“They want to know about me, they want to know my story. They’re asking questions that people at home already know the answer to. But that’s the fun part of it almost, it’s like a new start.”

Frampton had no real need to start over. Things were damn good back home. Some 20 professional fights and 20 professional wins have come the 28-year-old’s way along with that world title.

That was the culmination of one lifelong ambition. Cracking America might appear to be the chance to fulfil another childhood dream but for Frampton that is not the case.

“I never thought about it or dreamt about it growing up. When I turned pro, and started getting some big wins, it started to drift into the mind,” he admits.

“Growing up, the dream was to win be a champion of the world. But I’ve reached that dream and there’s new dreams for me. New goals. I want to unify the division and win titles at different weights.”

Frampton and his team of McGuigans have always done things their own way. Some have questioned their decisions or doubted certain moves but every one has proven to be the right call.

They eschewed the traditional US launching pads of New York or Boston, where the houses would be packed with friendly faces and voices, or Las Vegas, where the hype would look after itself.

Instead it is here in El Paso, a place where boxing is nonetheless carved into the cross-border culture, where things begin for Frampton. That is down to tactical reasons more than any other.

“The only reason we are not in New York of on that side is because of TV, really. We needed to be on a matinee show to fit with primetime back home on ITV. This was the best, probably only available option that they had, so here we are in El Paso,” says Frampton, who took up the US option when the mouthwatering unification bout with Britain’s Scott Quigg couldn’t be agreed upon.

“Of course I would like to fight on the East Coast. That’s where I want to be and that’s where I want to base my career when I’m not fighting at home. We’ll be taking the east coast by storm in the near future.

“It is boxing country here though. They love their boxing, you can see that every day. There’s a huge latino influence and it’s in their blood. They’re not blow-ins, they’re discerning fans. I think I have a style that can please them, that can win them over.”

Daytime temperatures have remained steady around 38 degrees all week in west Texas, the pavements baking under the searing sierra sun. It’s left Frampton to wonder out loud quite how his mentor McGuigan managed 15 rounds outdoors in similar climes almost 30 years ago: “I can’t even begin to imagine it. Crazy, crazy. And it was even hotter when Barry done it.”

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