The main support on the Frank Warren promoted Carl Frampton card in Belfast on Saturday is Zolani Tete against Omar Andres Narvaez. It’s another title fight, with the WBO Bantamweight world title on the line for this one which is currently held by Tete. The England based South African is on a ten fight winning streak, stopping seven of those inside the distance and hasn’t lost since 2012. In his last outing, the lethal Southpaw knocked out his challenger Siboniso Gonya, a fellow South African, in eleven seconds of the first round! A world record for a knockout in a title defence. Tete will be hoping for a similar result in front of the Belfast crowd, and with twenty one knockouts from twenty six wins, its always a possibility!
Tete’s opponent, however, Omar Andres Narvaez will most certainly have other ideas. A decorated amateur and a former two weight world champion, he actually holds the joint record for the most title defences with Julio Cèsar Chàvez, at twenty seven. He is a vastly experienced fighter who can be heavy handed himself with twenty five stoppages from forty eight wins. It will be his experience he looks upon to see him through to victory. Two hard hitting southpaws? We could well be seeing an early finish to this one.
Also featuring on this card is Tyrone McKenna versus Anthony Upton. Tyrone McKenna was originally down to face Phil Sutcliffe Jr, however the Dublin man was forced to pull out with Injury. Up stepped Upton at short notice seizing his chance on the big show. Despite only been in camp for four weeks, his team are confident he’s fit all year round and ready for this dangerous challenge.
Upton has only lost once in seventeen fights, has never been stopped and is a former BBBofC super lightweight English title holder. Upton will be confident for this fight, he is there to make a statement not simply to fill in.
Tyrone Mckenna is a dangerous six foot one southpaw with an impressive record of fifteen wins from sixteen fights and is undefeated, the other being a draw. He is a former BUI Celtic super lightweight title holder and is expected to be fitter than ever after completing his first ever twelve week fight camp. McKenna has tweeted he is looking forward to his victory on Saturday, so he is going into this with full confidence.
Two confident Belfast boys, in a sold out SSE arena. The fans should be really looking forward to this one, The Battle of Belfast has every possibility of stealing the headlines!
In another title fight, we have Ulsterman Conrad Cummings against Dubliner Luke Keeler for the Vacant WBO European middleweight title. Both have very close records in this one, Cummings has thirteen victories from fifteen fights, one defeat and one draw whilst Keeler comes in with a record of thirteen wins, two defeats and one draw. Both have proven pedigree with Cummings actually holding the title before, and it is worth noting he never actually lost it in the ring. Keeler himself is a former holder of the BUI Celtic and Irish National middleweight Titles. Another good match up, in this Battle of Ireland.
Also featuring on this card are undefeated prospects Steven Ward, Tyrone McCullagh, David Oliver Joyce, Sam Maxwell, Ryan Hatton, Lewis Crocker and Alex Dickinson who will all be expecting to continue their impressive starts to their respective careers. Also Marco McCullough appears, who will be looking to string a few wins together after an up and down career to date.
The Main Event
The day is nearly upon us for Frampton versus Donaire. Two multiple weight world champions. I for one can’t wait for this one!
The Golden Boy of Ulster/Irish boxing is returning to the SSE arena in front of a sell out crowd. It wasn’t so long ago that Frampton seemed untouchable. He dominated Scott Quigg for twelve rounds to cement himself as Britain’s best super bantamweight, retaining his IBF world title and winning the WBA super title in the process. Before moving up to featherweight, travelling to America and winning the Featherweight WBA super title after winning a majority decision in a close contest against Lèo Santa Cruz.
Becoming the first Northern Irishman to win titles in two weight divisions was a huge achievement for Carl. But then the fairy tale derailed a little, after losing a rematch by majority decision, he was unable to secure a thrid fight in Belfast even though this was believed to have been an agreement. Moving on, Frampton was to bring boxing back to Belfast in a scheduled bout against Andres Gutierrez. But Frampton came in 1lb over the limit at weigh in, before Gutierrez then pulled out at the last minute after falling in the shower. Things seemed to have stalled at a crucial time, something had to change.
Change it did, with Frampton splitting from his former trainer and management and joining forces with Jamie Moore and Frank Warren. He finally made his return to the ring and to Belfast with a ten round fight against Horacio Garcia. What was expected to be a warm up fight, turned into a battle with Frampton even admitting that everyone else would have enjoyed that more than him.
But now things are back on the up for Frampton, there is a good atmosphere about his camp. He’s enjoying a more scientific approach with his new trainer and we are expecting to see the best yet of him. Frank Warren has duly delivered with a title fight, back in Belfast were Frampton wants to be. This is the return of the Jackal, the momentum is back behind him to cement his legacy, and to reinstate his claim as the best Irish boxer of all time.
But what stands in his way? Make no mistake In the matter, Nonito Donaire is a truly formidable opponent. A four weight world champion, seven world titles in all; this guy is elite. The Filipino Flash, as named for his wickedly fast hand speed he also carries dangerous power having won The Rings Knockout of the year twice in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Like Frampton, Donaire hasn’t had things all his own way. Despite being a four weight world champion he has shown vulnerabilities in his game, having being beaten four times and at times relying on his power to score a stoppage victory when been behind on points.
However Donaire has shared the ring with some of the most elite fighters, in Rigonduex a name thrown about for Frampton before the Santa Cruz fight and more recently losing his WBO super bantamweight title to the dangerous and undefeated Jesse Magdaleno. This was back in November 2016 and has since only boxed once himself.
Here we have two fighters, both with unquestionable talent and drive yet they have both landed at a crossroads in their respective careers and it really is make or break for both fighters. Which is hard to say about two such exceptional fighters!. How will this fight go? For me that depends on Carl Frampton, Donaire can be out boxed and has shown that on multiple occasions. However if Frampton gets dragged into a fight, like he did in his last outing he could be in real trouble! The fast hands of Donaire can do a lot of damage in a short space of time if he’s aloud to unleash.