By Alan Hubbard
IT IS NOT often that I disagree on boxing matters with my good friend and fellow scribe Colin Hart, but I do take issue with his view that Carl Frampton should call it a day.
In his Sun column last week Colin wrote that the former two-weight world champion from Belfast should follow George Groves into a well-earned retirement – alongside James DeGale and Amir Khan, who both have dangerous big fights pending.
Harty opined: “I think it’s a great pity Khan, Degale and Frampton haven’t been blessed with Groves’s good sense.
“They are all multi-millionaire ex-world champions who are all over thirty yet continuing to fight despite having nothing left to prove.
“The three of them are kidding themselves if they believe they are a formidable force to be reckoned with on the world stage.
“No doubt they are capable of winning fights – but at what cost to their future well-being?”
Well, while one might be argue a case for DeGale and Khan, who have both taken quite a few lumps of late, to seriously think about quitting soon. But I beg to demur over Frampton. There’s life in The Jackal yet.
After much soul-searching he has decided to carry clouting after his defeat by new IBF featherweight Josh Warrington, and I think he is right.
OK, so he is 31, but in boxing terms that is almost younger than springtime these days.
He may be battle-hardened but he is not battle-scarred. He remains with all his considerable faculties intact and as fit as an Irish fiddle.
Fresh-faced and full of fire, he can still fill a hall in Belfast, and most other places.
There are opponents out there who are certainly beatable, in whichever weight division he chooses to compete.
Explaining his decision to consider retiring after the December 22 loss to Warrington, Frampton now says: “As soon as the final bell went, I knew I had lost. At that point in my head, I felt like I was a retired fighter and I didn’t want to fight any more.
“Immediately after the fight I said , ‘I’m never going to box again’, So much so I said to my wife (Christine) ‘I’m done, I don’t want to do this anymore’.
“I was annoyed and upset. I spoke to my family and I think I even told my kids that I was going to stay at home from now on but things have changed and I just realised that I wouldn’t like to finish and go out on a losing fight like that.”
After a chat with his promoter Frank Warren, Frampton believes he still has big nights and big performances left in him.
‘People I respect have told me I’ve plenty left and I thought: ‘Do you know what? It was a f****** bad night’. The weight was okay; it was something else, and I still know I’ve got enough left.
A clash with WBO champion Oscar Valdez is being heavily mooted and Frampton can foresee big nights in the near-immediate future.
He adds: “I’m still a big name in the division. You look at Amir Khan, who’s been knocked out in his career and he’s just walked into a big fight with Terence Crawford. I have big fights there for me, winnable fights, and I genuinely believe I can be a world champion again.
“Potentially moving down [in weight] is another option that we’ve spoken about.
“Against (Nonito) Donaire, I made featherweight pretty comfortably and I remember saying before the (Luke) Jackson fight that if something came up at super-bantamweight I’d be willing to try it out so that’s an option.”
However, a high-profile fight at featherweight remains the most likely target for the iconic Ulsterman.
“I believe that my team and Frank can deliver a big opponent for me. We’ll see what happens and hopefully we’ll know a bit more in the next few weeks.”
We all look forward to that. Sorry Colin.
Meantime Frampton’s nemesis, Leeds warrior Warrington, will next exercise he formidable mitts against unbeaten mandatory challenger Kid Galahad, Warren having won the purse bid.
I am not the sprauncy Sheffield fighter’s greatest fan – no more than I am of any boxer who has cheated with drugs – but he is nifty enough to give Warrington a decent workout for s few rounds.
It won’t be a walk in the park (or even Elland Road) for Josh, but in the end he’ll box-fight Galahad’s ears off.
THESE DAYS I often despair of the newspaper industry, in which I have worked for well over half a century. The game’s gone, as they say.
Recently The Times dispensed with their excellent boxing correspondent Ron Lewis, citing budgetary reasons. Unlike some of his contemporaries Ron has a deep knowledge and genuine love of the fight game at all levels. He also writes beautifully, and hopefully won’t be unemployed long.
However Ron also writes on track and field so it means that The Times, which claims to be an organ of such great authority, no longer has anyone regularly covering the boxing and athletics beats. I hear they have also had similar cutbacks on other sports, including golf and racing. Sign of The Times indeed.
BT and BoxNation’s esteemed commentator John Rawling was quick off the mark to suggest that one other famous fight figure deserving of the highest accolade is Lennox Lewis. I quite agree.
Indeed, boxing seems ill-served compared to other sports by those who dish out the top gongs. The late, beloved Sir ‘Enry remains boxing’s one and only knight.
I believe that had not only Lewis, but, say, Frank Bruno and Joe Calzaghe been cyclists, rowers, or footballers they would have taken the knee at Buck House by now.
Maybe it is time for a word in the shell-like of that great boxing fan Lord Sebastian Coe, who I believe still heads up the Sports Honours Committee.