Carl Frampton primed to deliver Dubai masterclass to best Jamel Herring and make history

Carl Frampton is set for a shot at creating history (Getty)
Carl Frampton is set for a shot at creating history (Getty)

It could be the end of a glorious boxing career for Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton on Saturday night in Dubai when he fights Jamel Herring for the WBO’s super-featherweight title.

Frampton has won world titles at super-bantamweight, featherweight, lost title fights on mad nights, suffered injuries, survived a nasty court case, led glorious celebrations in bars, had his setbacks, been deceived by opponents, insulted by others and marched on leading his devoted flock. He is adored, respected and now he is in the fight of his life.

Herring is a year older than Frampton at 35, has only fought 24 times, he is a marine veteran of two bloody and horrific tours in Iraq, he fights with his heart, he survived Covid last year and he is one of the nicest men in the sport. There are no spectacular wins on his record, let’s get that clear, but his size and determination combine to make him a formidable opponent. Frampton will be six-inches shorter and perhaps surrender the same distance in reach and, just to add to Herring’s impressive dimensions, the American is a southpaw.

“He’s not the kind of guy that you go and chase for a fight, that’s for sure,” said Frampton. “I have beaten good men who were taller than me and good men who were southpaws. I know how to beat him.” The alternative view is that Herring, who is smarter than he gets credit for, knows exactly how to beat a man who is shorter and orthodox. Herring could make it ugly and simply maul his way to a win.

There is a suggestion, which Herring denies, that the American struggles at the super-featherweight poundage and that making weight is starting to take a toll on him; Frampton would not be the first British boxer to benefit from a champion stuck in a losing battle with the scales. Frampton can basically eat what he likes and has enjoyed his two-weeks in Dubai, dining with hanging kebabs and tables heaving with meze plates. It’s safe to say that Carl is in a very, very good place and that will be critical once the first bell sounds.

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Frampton has been the man behind a giant revival in Irish boxing, topping bills from the very start; he moved from leisure centres in Belfast to the established and iconic Ulster and Kings Halls, indoors at the old Odyssey and he won his first world title in a shipyard on the Belfast docks one chilly night in September 2014. The fans joined the Frampton party, stayed in voice and pledged their allegiance. It has been some journey, that’s for sure.

A sold-out night in 2016 in Manchester against unbeaten world champion and local idol, Scott Quigg, was an oddly muted fight, but a great win and night; then the tour switched to New York City and another unbeaten world champion, Leo Santa Cruz. It was an unforgettable fight, a joyous win, a world title at featherweight to go with the super-bantam version. There was not a dry eye in the place after that win in Brooklyn.

Frampton lost to Santa Cruz the following January in Las Vegas, the fans stayed loyal, there was a break with his old management and a new partnership in the gym with Jamie Moore. The caravan was soon back with wins in Belfast and then another epic night was scheduled just three days before Christmas in 2018 at a sold-out Manchester Arena. What a fight it was; Frampton lost a tight decision to Josh Warrington at feather for the IBF title. He was down and low after that loss, wondering what he had left. Since that night, and under Covid schemes and a couple of cancelled fights, Frampton has fought just twice. In that time, he injured his hands and now he is fresher than he would have been a year ago. His body has healed from a life of relentless pounding and stress and pain. The Herring fight was first planned for Belfast last June.

The fight in Dubai is beautifully poised for history; should he emerge victorious, Frampton will become the island of Ireland’s first three-weight world champion.

“I have stopped having gym wars, reduced my sparring,” confirmed Frampton, who has won 28 of his 30 fights. “I’m living the life, living like a professional athlete and I’m ready for this fight. This is a fight I have to win.” A defeat, a real defeat and not a close loss on points, would leave Frampton in that notoriously vague place where fallen fighters with enough to offer, but not enough to win, have to make hard, hard decisions about a future they know has been taken away. Frampton should never be allowed to become a man that younger fighters are measured against – he deserves better than that and I believe he will, when it is the right time, leave the business with dignity.

However, now is not the right time and once that bell sounds in that faraway location there will be the resounding echo of millions watching back home. Nobody in the Frampton business will be sitting – it will be standing and hollering and screaming and laughing all the way for his remote fans. And Carl will, I believe, not disappoint. There is a history of Frampton making hard fights simple and easier fights hard; Herring will find that his height and reach have been taken away by Frampton’s craft and guile. Frampton also hits harder than Herring thinks. It will have to be a masterclass and I believe it will be.