By Frank Warren
AFTER A SUPERB show in the North East of England last Saturday, this weekend we head to Northern Ireland for our hugely anticipated ‘Frampton Reborn‘ card.
I am sure Carl Frampton won’t mind me saying but, for once, a show in Belfast isn’t just about the main man himself.
Of course, having the highly decorated and hugely charismatic Carl topping the bill has seen to it that the SSE Arena will be packed the rafters on the night for his return to the ring against the dangerous Mexican Horacio Garcia, but I am sure the Belfast public won’t want to miss a moment of the chief support acts.
Carl needs to quickly get back in the swing of things with his new trainer Jamie Moore and it is no straightforward assignment against the 27-year-old Garcia, who has 24 stoppages in his 33 wins and has never been halted himself.
Once he comes through this one – as I am confident he will – we can then start plotting his next moves against the major players in the featherweight division and that is something I am really looking forward to.
Carl is now a major piece in our domestic jigsaw along with Josh Warrington and Lee Selby, so we will also be putting those pieces together next year with hopefully more than one world title belt at stake.
Before The Jackal takes to the ring I am certain that Jamie Conlan will have the arena absolutely rocking for his tilt at the IBF world super flyweight title against Jerwin Ancajas.
It is a real tough one for Jamie against the 27-1-1 man who calls himself ‘Pretty Boy’ and he will definitely have his work cut out against the formidable Filipino.
What you know Jamie is never lacking is heart and extreme bravery. There has been a few times over the last couple of years when he could have called in quits and saved himself for another day, but he always dug deep and found a way to win despite absorbing huge punishment in the process.
Yes he will need to box smartly against the southpaw puncher with 18 KOs, but he will also need to draw on the emotion of the crowd who will be willing him to victory.
Between Jamie and those supporting him in the Arena, they’ve got to really remind Ancajas that he is away from home and up against it.
One fella who is totally at ease fighting away from home is the WBO world bantamweight champion Zolani Tete, who has no problem exporting his considerable talents over from South Africa.
He defends his title in Belfast against his countryman Siboniso Gonya, but what he really wants is a return ticket to the fighting city and a unification against Ryan Burnett.
When the Belfast crowd see Zolani up close I am sure it is a fight they will be demanding too because he is something very special and, to my mind, the best around at the weight.
Coverage from Belfast on Saturday begins on BoxNation at 7.25pm and on BT Sport at 8.30pm
WE DIDN’T QUITE get what was widely predicted from the Liam Smith v Liam Williams rematch in Newcastle on Saturday, but what we did get was an absorbing contest where tactics and gameplans were adhered to by the fighters.
Both the Liams fought really well and, while it wasn’t the free-for-all of last time out, it was a good close fight.
They matched each other pretty much punch for punch, with Williams coming on strong in a couple and Smith doing likewise. In my view, what nailed it for Smith was the final two rounds where he closed the fight out strongly.
I had Smith winning by 2 or 3 rounds and it may have come down to experience in the Championship rounds. This was the first time Williams had gone the distance over 12 rounds.
It was a fight that generated plenty of mixed opinions and, having watched it back, to be quite honest I do think the commentators were a bit unfair on Liam Williams.
Smith boxed really well, and now is set to try and regain his crown next year.
Other standout performances on the night came from Mark Heffron and Jeff Saunders, while Josh Leather had to really dig deep – after coming through the ordeal of being floored by Glenn Foot – and he showed a lot of character in what must be a candidate for fight the year.
It was only Josh’s 13th fight and the kid has stepped up in a big way, also going the 12 rounds distance for the first time, so all credit to him.