By: Ciaran O’Mahony
A world title shot beckons for Carl Frampton, who secured the WBO Interim Featherweight title with a dominant victory over Nonitio Donaire in Belfast last night.
Frampton, 31, fought an aggressive but intelligent fight, picking his punches carefully, landing them with precision and using his speed and movement to evade the Filipino’s legendary knockout power.
Donaire patiently stalked Frampton throughout the fight, searching for a big, fight-ending blow that never came. He struggled to get near the Irishman and on the few occasions that he did, he generally came off second best.
Frampton significantly damaged Donaire’s eye in the second round after he trapped him on the ropes and let fly with blistering combinations.
Things only got worse for the former four weight world champion as Frampton put it on him round after round in a near shutout performance.
The first six rounds were largely one way traffic with Frampton using his jab and different angles to create openings for big right hooks.
It was an extremely disciplined performance from the former two weight world champion as he landed a number of power shots, but didn’t overcommit or allow himself to get drawn into a brawl.
Although Donaire was outclassed, he was never completely out of the fight, landing some big shots off the ropes in the fifth round that reminded us that he has the ability to finish a fight from anywhere.
Nonetheless, Frampton patiently picked him apart, circling out of the Filipino’s range whenever he landed a big shot.
His clinical performance highlighted that he is still one of the best featherweights in the world.
“The Jackal” barely lost a round to the admittedly aging future hall of famer, who often looked slow, flat-footed and out of ideas.
The Irishman’s speed, skill and IQ seemed to bamboozle him at times. However, Donaire remained dangerous from start to finish due to the knockout power he possesses in both hands.
He landed a trademark uppercut in the seventh round, which briefly staggered the Irishman, but he was unable to land the follow-up shot needed to put him away.
Frampton was under the pump again in the eleventh round, eating some vicious hooks and uppercuts, but never looked in danger of being stopped.
In the end, these were minor blips in an impressive performance and the Belfast man now has his eye on another world title.
Frampton would love the chance to avenge his only professional loss in a trilogy fight with WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz, but the Mexican doesn’t appear to be keen on a rematch just yet.
A unification bout with WBO Champion Oscar Valdez or a big money fight with the winner of Lee Selby vs Josh Warrington seems more likely.
Either way, the Irishman is back in the big time and has silenced critics who called for his retirement after his defeat to Santa Cruz nearly two years ago.
Donaire’s next step is less clear, but this was probably his last chance to launch himself into title contention.
One thing’s for sure though, his place in boxing’s hall of fame is already secure.
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