If Carl Frampton had his way, he’d have already won a super featherweight world championship and in the process cemented himself as the greatest Irish fighter ever.
No fighter from Ireland or Northern Ireland has ever won world title belts in three weight classes, but Frampton already has championships at super bantamweight and featherweight.
Now 33, Frampton will fight Darren Traynor in Stratford, England, on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN) in a 10-round non-title bout.
If he wins, he’s expected to face WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring, who will defend his belt on Sept. 5 in Las Vegas against Jonathan Oquendo.
The coronavirus pandemic, though, changed things for Frampton, as it did with so many others. He also had to deal with the fact that until recently, the British Boxing Board of Control wasn’t allowing fighters to spar because of the virus.
Frampton, though, isn’t concerned and said he’ll be prepared for Traynor on Saturday. He’s been around long enough to know how to get ready no matter the obstacles. He didn’t know who he was fighting until this week, but he shrugged.
“Getting ready for a fight without knowing who it’s going to be is not ideal, but it is what it is,” he said. “That’s one of the benefits that comes from experience, you learn to deal with that kind of thing. Everyone has to deal with this pandemic, not just me. It’s been OK for me. I’ve been in Manchester training for 11 weeks, so I have a full camp in me. I was training at home. I’ve got a bit of a gym set up in my garage, so I came into camp in reasonable shape. I feel like I’m in good shape.
“In terms of sparring, I’m not sure what was going on in America or in different states, but here, the British Boxing Board of Control didn’t allow sparring up until a few weeks ago, so I haven’t done as much sparring as I normally do, though I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”
Frampton said he’s eager to get to the fight with Herring, who twice has had his bout with Oquendo postponed because he tested positive for the coronavirus. If Herring wins, he’ll probably meet Frampton in November.
But Frampton sees another Top Rank fighter as the big dog at 130 pounds.
“There are a lot of good fights to be made for me, but the fight with Jamel is one that myself and Jamel have been talking about more so than the rest of the opposition at 130,” Frampton said. “[Promoter] Bob Arum is keen on myself and Jamel Herring. But if for some reason that fight doesn’t happen, there are other fighters with Top Rank that very much appeal to me.
“[Miguel] Berchelt is one of them. He’s in my opinion the top guy at 130 at the minute. You always want to challenge yourself against the best, and that’s a fight that would appeal to me, too. So would a fight with Oscar Valdez. He doesn’t have a title, but that would be a great fight.”
Prograis, DiBella to split
Regis Prograis developed into one of the best fighters in the world while under the DiBella Entertainment banner, but it appears their days of working together are just about over.
They’re working on terms of a split that would free Prograis to sign with another promoter, potentially the Premier Boxing Champions.
The best place for Prograis to land if he’s leaving DiBella, in my opinion, is Top Rank. They have the champions, Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor, under contract, as well as several other good potential bouts, and he could use the exposure that fighting on ESPN would bring. But he seems to be leaning toward signing with the PBC.
ESPN in the bubble
Top Rank shows on ESPN ran every Tuesday and Thursday beginning June 9 through July with a couple of Saturday shows thrown in. But the ESPN and Top Rank crew spent 47 days in the bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Here are some statistics from those 47 days in the bubble, according to ESPN public relations:
Zero positive tests among the ESPN crew on site.
There were 25 “SportsCenter” segments on the Top Rank shows.
There were 10 “Max on Boxing” shows produced.
Mark Kriegel produced 23 essays.
There was a total of 43 hours of coverage.
The staff conducted 64 hours of Zoom meetings.
They had 2,100 COVID-19 tests administered.
The series resumes in Las Vegas on Aug. 22, with Joe Smith versus Eleider Alvarez in the main event.
Tyson-Jones PPV moving dates
The pay-per-view card headlined by former heavyweight champions and boxing icons Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. has been moved from Sept. 12 to Nov. 28, Tyson announced Tuesday on social media. He did not give a reason for the switch.
The bout, which is scheduled as an exhibition, will still be held at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
He said it
“I’ve been working so long for a title shot. So being able to get this opportunity and then actually following through and winning, it just meant the world to me. It’s been a crazy journey, with COVID-19, and then the George Floyd incident and starting camps and then stopping and so forth. My grandmother ended up passing away when I was in camp for this fight. So it was a lot of mixed emotions for me. It just feels good to be able to bring this back home for my city. Now we’ll see how much farther I can go.” — Jamal James after defeating Thomas Dulorme on Saturday to win the interim WBA welterweight title in Los Angeles.
More from Yahoo Sports: