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Carl Frampton must impress against Horacio Garcia

Image: Carl Frampton must impress against Horacio Garcia

By Juan Flores: Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) has put himself in a position where he absolutely needs to impress tonight against unranked Horacio Garcia (33-3-1, 24 KOs) at The SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Frampton can’t just win against Garcia. He has to win in style and make it look effortless if he wants to get out of this fight without being torn apart by the boxing public.

Frampton-Garcia will be headlining the “Frampton Reborn” card tonight, with an excellent undercard to go along with it. In the notable undercard fights, IBF World super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas defends against Irish fighter Jamie Conlan, and WBO World bantamweight champion Zolani Tete will be fighting Siboniso Gonya. That’s not nearly as interesting a fight compared to the Ancajas vs. Conlan match, which could steal the show tonight.

For some reason, Frampton felt it was important for him to fight an opponent in a showcase fight in front of his boxing fans in Belfast. Frampton, 29, could have picked out a talented contender to show the fans what he can do against the best, but he wanted a guy he could showoff against, which is why the 27-year-old Garcia was picked out. The problem is, Frampton is now in the position where he’ll need to look like a superstar for him to get out of the fight without being made to look bad.

Garcia has enough youth and boxing skills to give Frampton fits tonight. Garcia has received plenty of pointers from his friend Saul Canelo Alvarez, who will be there live tonight at the SSE Arena to root him on. With Canelo there to give him support, Garcia is going to be looking to take the fight to Frampton and expose him just like Mexican American talent Leo Santa Cruz did last January. Santa Cruz surprised a lot of boxing fans by staying on the outside and out-boxing Frampton.

Going into their January 28 rematch, Santa Cruz was seen by many as likely to use pressure to get the better of Frampton. After all, Santa Cruz had a job on Frampton in their first fight by last year in July by pressuring him hard for the last 7 rounds in a controversial 12 round majority decision loss in New York. Santa Cruz showed in that fight that Frampton can’t handle pressure. Scott Quigg had done the same thing to Frampton in his fight against him last year on February 27, but he got off to a late start and wound up losing a 12 round split decision. Santa Cruz chose to box Frampton in the rematch rather than using the same pressure tactics that he used in the first fight, and it worked well for him.

If Garcia follows the fight advice from Canelo, it’s possible we could see him punch in spurts against Frampton the same way that Canelo did in his recent fight with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin last September. Canelo got the better of Golovkin with his short bursts of activity. Garcia can use the same thing against Frampton and win rounds. The only thing is, it’s doubtful that Garcia will be given credit for stealing the rounds, due the fight taking place in Frampton’s home city of Belfast. But, if Garcia loses a controversial decision, it will put pressure on Frampton to give him a rematch. That’s where you can bet that Garcia will have a good chance of being given the decision.

If Garcia gets robbed tonight, it’ll ignite a firestorm of criticism directed at Frampton and the judges. The only way Frampton will be able to quite the angry boxing fans is by fighting Garcia a second time, but in a neutral venue like in the U.S. Garcia is from Mexico, so having a rematch between them in the U.S would be considered a neutral country, unless it’s in New York. Garcia needs to make sure he fights well enough for him to be in the position to get a second fight with Frampton. That’s the hard part.

“I need to win impressively to tee up a big 2018,” said Frampton. ”I want to make a good impression in my first fight with them,” said Frampton about wanting to look good in his first fight with his new promoter Frank Warren. ”I have to get the win this weekend and I hope to win in style.”

It’s not going to be easy for Frampton to look good in the fight, because Garcia has been well prepped by his training team by the advice he’s been given by Canelo Alvarez. Garcia knows exactly what he needs to do for him to make Frampton look bad. Even if Garcia still loses, he’s going to be looking to make Frampton have to labor to get his win. That’s why it’s not a good idea for a fighter at Frampton’s stage of his career to be looking to fight a 2nd tier fighter like Garcia. Once you’re at the level Frampton is at, you’re supposed to continue to fight quality opposition until you’re officially over-the-hill. Look at Santa Cruz. He’s not fighting any soft jobs. He’s continually fighting the best.

When Santa Cruz lost to Frampton, he didn’t turn around and look for a 2nd tier fighter to pad his record against. He went after Frampton in a rematch, and he beat him. Some boxing fans would say that Santa Cruz beat Frampton for the second time, being as he was arguably robbed by the judges in his first fight with him in New York last year. Frampton probably could have had a third fight with Santa Cruz if he were willing to fight him in his neighborhood in Los Angeles, California.

Santa Cruz would have surely agreed to a third fight with Frampton if he’d been open to the idea of fighting him in LA. After all, the first fight between them took place in front of a large pro-Frampton crowd in New York. The second fight was a neutral venue in Las Vegas. Frampton wasn’t at a disadvantage against Santa Cruz in either of their 2 fights, even though both of them took place in the U.S.

It shows you how huge the U.S is and how different the fans are in areas like New York and Las Vegas. Having the first fight in New York was like Frampton in Northern Ireland. He had a lot of fans inside the audience that night. If Frampton wants a third fight with Santa Cruz, he’s going to need to forget all about having him come to Belfast, because that’s not going to happen. Santa Cruz isn’t going to make that move and wind up having similar scorecards that had in his first fight with Frampton last year in New York.

“He’s a good fighter, a stereotypical Mexican fighter that comes forward, punches hard, takes a shot and he’s really brave,” said Frampton. “I should be dealing with guys like Horacio Garcia.”

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