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Carl Frampton vs. Nonito Donaire on April 21 in Belfast

Carl Frampton Nonito Donaire

By Tim Royner: In a battle of former world champions, Carl Frampton (24-1, 14 KOs) will be facing Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24 KOs) on April 21 in featherweight action at The SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. No world titles will be on the line.

This is a tune-up fight for the 30-year-old Frampton, for all intents and purposes. It’s a dangerous tune-up. The 35-year-old Donaire can still punch, even though he’s lost a step or two from aging. Donaire rarely lost in the past, but now he gets beaten each time he steps up against a good fighter.

We saw Donaire lose to Jerry Magdaleno by a 12 round unanimous decision on November 5, 2016. Before that, Donaire was stopped by Nicholas Walters in the 6th round in October 2014. Donaire lost the fight to Walters at featherweight. This is not the best division for Donaire, but he can’t make super bantamweight easily longer. Donaire was at his career best when he was fighting at flyweight.

Donaire was dominant at that weight, stopping Vic Darchinyan, Luis Maldonado, Raul Martinez and Moruti Mthalane. Donaire still was quite good in moving from flyweight to super flyweight, bantamweight, super bantamweight and finally featherweight. It’s a bridge too far for Donaire in fighting at 126. He’s not the same guy that was knocking guys out at 112. Donaire’s power was incredible for the flyweight division. It’s too bad he moved up.

Donaire has only been knocked out once in his career in losing to Nicholas Walters by a 6th round knockout in 2014. Donaire was beaten by Guillermo Rigondeaux by a one-sided 2 round unanimous decision in April 2013. Donaire couldn’t handle the speed, boxing skills and the defensive ability of Rigondeaux. That was a hard loss for Donaire to take, because he’s been considered the best fighter in the 122lb. weight class.

Donaire is going to be a tough out for Frampton. He’s going to have to fight Donaire to beat him. Trying to out-box Donaire might not work, because he’s fast, smart and he knows how to cut off the ring. Donaire is a former 4 division world title holder. Frampton hasn’t accomplished nearly the same kind of things Donaire has, and it’s unlikely that he ever will. Donaire has been a special fighter. There aren’t too many guys like Donaire in the sport.

Frampton comes into the Donaire fight ranked #2 WBC, #3 IBF, #3 WBA and #7 WBO. Frampton is looking to get moved up in the rankings with a win over Donaire. Presumably, Frampton wants to get ranked high with the International Boxing Federation and WBO, as those 2 sanctioning bodies afford him his best chance at winning a world title. The IBF 126 lb. champion is Lee Selby, and he’s not much of a puncher.

All Frampton would need to worry about against Selby is getting out-boxed. Selby’s fighting style would be perfect for Frampton, who likes to fight boxers. The ideal situation for Frampton would be for him to get pushed to No.1 with the WBO, as the champion that holds that belt is Oscar Valdez. That’s a fighter that Frampton would do well against. Valdez will be fighting Scott Quigg on March 10, and the chances are high that he’ll lose that fight. If Quigg wins the WBO belt, Frampton would have an interesting rematch with him. Frampton beat Quigg by a 12 round split decision in February 2016.

Former 2 weight world champion Frampton is not looking that great either with his career. He lost to Leo Santa Cruz last year in January by a 12 round majority decision. Some boxing fans say Frampton lost both fights with Santa Cruz, but was given a controversial 12 round majority decision win in their first fight in July 2016. Where Frampton showed signs of slipping was in his last fight against Horacio Garcia in November of last year.

Frampton won the fight by a 10 round unanimous decision over Garcia, but he was knocked down by him and he lost some rounds. It was not Frampton at his best. Perhaps it was a case of Frampton not being properly motivated for an opponent that was coming into the fight with plenty of motivation. Saul Canelo Alvarez came to watch Garcia fight, and he was there to motivate him, as they share the same trainer. Frampton should have known that he would need to bring his A-game for the Garcia fight.

Frampton vs. Donaire was supposed to take place on April 7, but the date was changed to April 21 to give more time for ticket sales.

It’ll be a nice win for Frampton if he’s able to knockout or outclass Donaire. Only one fighter during Donaire’s career has out-boxed him, and that was Rigondeaux. If Frampton can do the same thing, it’ll be a huge positive for his career. Donaire is far from over-the-hill. He’s not the same guy he was at 112, but he’s still a very good fighter.

If Frampton beats Donaire and looks good, he could face the winner of the Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington fight. Frampton was beaten for the first time in his career by Leo Santa Cruz last year. It was a close 12 round decision defeat that could have gone either way. Frampton has been trying to get Santa Cruz to come over to Belfast to face him in a third fight, but thus far he’s not been interested in taking the fight.

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