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Carl Frampton rates Nonito Donaire highly

By Jim Dower: Former two division world champion Carl Frampton (24-1, 14 KOs) has a lot of respect for former four division world champion Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24 KOs). The two are facing each other this Saturday night for the interim WBO featherweight title at The SSE in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Frampton-Donaire will be shown on Showtime Sports’ Youtube channel, as well as the Showtime Boxing Facebook. The start time for the show is t 5:15 ET/2:15 PT.

Despite the amount of credit Frampton, 31, has received in the last three year of his career by the boxing world, he’s only accomplished half of what the 35-year-old Donaire has achieved in winning titles in 4 different weight classes during his 17-year pro career.

Frampton would feel lucky if he can equal what Donaire has done. However, it’s unlikely Frampton will be able to do that, as it would mean that he would need to capture world titles at super featherweight and lightweight. Just looking at Frampton’s last three fights against Leo Santa Cruz and Horacio Garcia, it seems obvious that he’s not going to be able to go beyond the featherweight division. I suspect Frampton won’t even attempt to go up to super featherweight or lightweight.

”I had a lot of respect for Donaire back when he was a champion and I still do,” Frampton said via ESPN. “He’s a quality fighter. In terms of accolades, he’s accomplished more than any other fighter that I’ve ever fought. He’s a future Hall of Famer. Hopefully, I can put myself in that bracket one day.”

Frampton and Donaire are trying to lock themselves into a fight with WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez, who is currently out of commission nursing a broken jaw from his recent fight against Scott Quigg. Frampton still has unfinished business with WBA Super World featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, but two are on different paths at the moment. Frampton lost to Santa Cruz by a 12 round majority decision in their rematch last January after beating him by a controversial 12 round decision in their first fight in July 2016.

Frampton could have gotten a third fight with Santa Cruz if he were willing to fight him in the United States in the Los Angeles area, but he wanted him to come to Belfast for the third fight, and that wasn’t going to happen. Santa Cruz had already gotten a taste of controversial scoring in his first fight with Frampton in front of a huge crowd of Frampton’s Irish supporters in New York in 2016, and he doesn’t want to have to deal with an even bigger pro-Frampton crowd in traveling to Northern Ireland for a third fight.

“He is the best fighter that I will have ever fought,” Frampton said about Donaire. ”That includes Leo Santa Cruz and [Scott] Quigg and everyone else. Donaire has accomplished more than anyone. It’s going to be big for me to get a result here on Saturday night.”

Frampton’s toughest opponents in his 9-year pro career are the following fighters:

• Leo Santa Cruz

• Scott Quigg

• Kiko Martinez

• Horacio Garcia

• Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.

• Hugo Fidel Cazares

• Raul Hirales

The 36-year-old Donaire is known for having a huge left hook that he likes to catch his opponents with. However, he also has a good right hand that is equally dangerous when he times it perfectly to nail his opponents. Frampton has already been in with some huge punchers such as Scott Quigg and Santa Cruz. Frampton also had problems with the punching power of Kiko Martinez, Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. and Horacio Garcia. All three of those guys had Frampton in trouble at various times in their fights over the years.

Frampton will have the hometown advantage over Donaire with the fight taking place in Belfast. What this means is that Donaire is probably going to need to do something special for him to get a decision if the fight goes the distance. Frampton’s last opponent Horacio Garcia found out for himself how hard it is to beat the Irish fighter at home at The SSE Arena last November in losing a 10 round unanimous decision that could have easily have gone the other way in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans.

It would be better for Donaire to forget about trying to win a decision and focus instead on knocking Frampton out. That won’t be easy for Donaire to do unless he can time Frampton, because he tends to use an in and out attacking style that makes him hard to hit. In the past, Donaire has frequently been good at timing fighters that use the in and out style. We saw that with Donaire’s knockout wins over Vic Darchinyan, Luis Maldonado, Hernan Marquez and Fernando Montiel. Those were all good fighters that Donaire was able to knockout by timing their attacks. If Donaire still has his reflexes and accuracy, he could get to Frampton’s chin and knock him out on Saturday night. What’s unclear is whether Donaire’s punching power will be enough for him to get Frampton out of there. Donaire’s power isn’t quite as devastating at featherweight compared to what it was when he was fighting in the 112, 118 and 122 lb. weight divisions. Donaire was knocking out most of his opposition when fighting in those divisions. Donaire has only fought 4 times at featherweight against these fighters:

• Vic Darchinyan

• Simpiwe Vetyeka

• Nicholas Walters

• Ruben Garcia Hernandez

None of those fights were easy ones for Donaire, as his punching power wasn’t hurting these guys like he’d done with his past opponents during his career. Donaire obviously knows he would do better if he moved back down to bantamweight and super bantamweight, but there aren’t any popular fighters from him to fight in those weight classes. Donaire can make more money fighting at featherweight against the likes of Oscar Valdez, Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz. The negative tradeoff is Donaire isn’t the same dominating fighter in the 126 lb. weight division, and he has to take a lot more punishment compared to when he was fighting in other divisions.

“I know a lot about Nonito Donaire and to say all he has is a left hook is a bit disrespectful. He’s a brilliant fighter and he can do a bit of everything,” Frampton said.

If Frampton isn’t ready for Donaire’s right hand, he could wind up back on the canvas like he was in his last fight with Garcia. It would be a minor upset if Donaire beats Frampton, as he’s like an old explosive ordinance that has been lying around for years. Donaire is still very capable of blasting Frampton out of there if he lands some of his perfectly timed power shots. Donaire is a different type of fighter than what Frampton has fought in the past, and it’s exactly for that reason an upset is a very real possibility.




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