The wait is almost over. After numerous postponements, Carl Frampton’s bid to become a three-weight world champion against WBO super-featherweight king Jamel Herring will finally take place in the exotic setting of Caesars Palace Dubai this Saturday.
Having moved from a February date in London after Frampton suffered a minor hand injury, the Belfast man has taken advantage of the delay to arrive in Dubai early and hit optimum condition.
The bout had previously been postponed from a projected summer 2020 date in Belfast by the onset of the Coronavirus and two subsequent, failed Covid-19 tests by Herring. Now, it is just two days from reality. Three-weight glory is within touching distance for the Northern Irishman in what will be Dubai’s first ever world title fight in boxing.
“It seems like we’ve been talking about this fight for well over a year now,” said Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs) at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference. “I feel like it was beneficial for me to get out here early. I had a sparring partner with me. I finished preparation here. I think it was beneficial to get used to my surroundings and the heat [more] than anything else. I finished off what has been a very, very good camp.
“People will talk about this hand injury that delayed the fight for a little while, but it was something very, very small. There’s no real issue, and I finished off sparring. I kind of put some ‘TLC’ on my hand for a week or eight days, and I was back sparring, hitting the heavy bags. But the camp, apart from that, has been top-notch, very good, no complaints. I’m just where I need to be right now, and I’m looking forward to the fight.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done in my career so far, but the chance to go down as the only ever three-weight world champion from the whole island of Ireland — one of the only British fighters to ever do it as well — you join an absolute elite bunch of global fighters to do that. I want to do that. I’m so determined to make that happen on the night and, personally, it will mean the world to me.
“I gotta expect the best Jamel Herring there’s ever been. We look at Jamel’s last performance [a disqualification win against Jonathan Oquendo], he gets a bit of criticism from that, from the media and from other people. My own performance wasn’t brilliant in my last fight [a stoppage of Darren Traynor}. I think both of us need to be a lot better in this fight to come out victorious. I’m prepared to be better. Hopefully, Jamel is as well and I think it’s going to be a good fight.”
Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) enters his third title defence in confident mood and undaunted by the prospect of fighting outside of the US for the first time in his career.
“I was able to stay focused with all the postponements because I had that motivation and hunger. I know this is still a big fight. I didn’t want to let it go,” said the champion. “Yes, a win over Frampton would be a career-defining milestone. You want to win a world title. Okay, we win the world title. Well, what’s next? We had to successfully defend our title to be considered a real champion. I’m getting to the conversation of, ‘Oh, you want to face the other champions and the other big names,’ and Carl Frampton is a two-division world champion. He has done great things in his career.
“Since November 2019, this fight has been talked about, and this is my moment. This is what I’ve worked for. This is what I’ve been asking for. This is a big fight for me now. I know a win will obviously push my career up, and I’m just excited to finally get in there with another good champion that I can topple, hopefully, this weekend.
“I don’t have any doubts with the fight happening in Dubai because I’m a U.S. Marine. I’ve fought everywhere, in terms of the battlefield or in the ring. If you guys remember, I was willing to face him in Belfast with no issue, in front of thousands of people. I was willing to give him that home field advantage because I wanted the fight that bad that I didn’t really care where the fight was at. As long as we had a ring and some gloves, I didn’t care.
“The way I win this fight is just being me, the Jamel that won the world championship. I have to bring that hunger back. I feel like my back is against the wall, even as the champion.”
Main image: MTK Global.