But there was a different look on the Jackal’s face on Saturday in El Paso, the wild jubilation of previous lifts was absent. He seemed to be getting little or no satisfaction from the celebrations.
That was primarily because a half-hour earlier at the Don Haskins Centre, in his first round on US soil, Frampton was forced to take in a very different view, the most unfamiliar one of his career.
He was left looking up at Alejandro Gonzalez Jr from the cushioned canvas — twice.
Frampton had never been downed in his pro-boxing life. Although the 28-year-old bounced back off the canvass to steady himself and intelligently and expertly force his way into the fight and then into a position of utter dominance from which he claimed a unanimous victory, the knockdowns were all that Frampton could think of afterwards.
“Yeah it was [the most shocking moment of my career]. I was shocked,” said the fighter after retaining his IBF super-bantamweight with the 21st victory of his career. “My thoughts were just... fuck me. I have never been dropped before. I have a solid chin. I recovered well. I was OK. The second knockdown was much heavier than the first but I recovered from both. I was disappointed with myself but I stuck to the gameplan. After being dropped I just wanted to win rounds, be smart and that’s what I have done.”
Frampton was staring a thousand yards and more as he spoke backstage afterwards. This wasn’t a disaster. It was a brief flirtation with it. But it left him feeling guilty.
“I came out here and I wanted to win, I wanted to win impressively and I didn’t do that,” was Frampton’s lament, even if the judges had been impressed enough to score the fight 115-109, 116-108, 116-108 in his favour.
“It was an exciting fight at least. People will probably tune in next [time]. Whether they’ll want me to win or lose I don’t know but they’ll tune in to watch me.
“I’m flying back on Monday and going back with mixed emotions. I’ll maybe cheer up in a day or two. I got the win which was the most important thing but it wasn’t the explosive performance I wanted. I set myself high standards. I always do and I did for this fight. I’m disappointed but the TV guys around here seem to be very happy because it was exciting.”
In unison Frampton, Shane McGuigan, and manager Barry insisted they weren’t looking for excuses.
But they were all irked by the ring which had been formatted with the double bill’s other headliner, Julio Cesar Chavez, in mind. “The ring was just dead. I couldn’t move in there,” said Frampton, looking forward to a family holiday more than anything else.
“It’s a Chavez ring, made for him to move forward. There’s an inch-and-a-half of foam under the ring. It was just ridiculous. I couldn’t get on my toes. I couldn’t move my legs.”
After footwork, weight was also a major issue and it is likely to remain one. Even if Scott Quigg’s superb knock-out win over Kiko Martinez in Manchester on the same night brought the long-demanded Quigg-Frampton showdown back front and centre, a move up to featherweight does make more and more sense for the Jackal, now 28.
“We’re going to have to reassess everything and see about the weight because there are massive fights at featherweight. I don’t want him feeling vulnerable in the ring. If he feels vulnerable then he will not fight at super-bantamweight,” said McGuigan Jr as the trainer held little back.
“He’s getting too heavy in between fights — I’ve told him that he’s an athlete so stay like an athlete, stay in shape. If you cut too much weight you leave yourself in a position like that.
“He said to me he just didn’t feel himself and you know what, this is what happens when you’re not in control and we will never, ever, ever let this happen again.”