Carl Frampton ripped away the IBF super bantamweight title from former champion Kiko Martinez last night in an electrifying outdoor venue in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter in Northern Ireland.
After a non too entertaining undercard kept many of the paying punters away from the evening’s formative action, the purpose built temporary 16,000 seater outdoor arena suddenly exploded into life as what looked like more than 8,000 fans entered literally minutes before the main event was about to commence.
Blustery conditions on the sea front could have been at fault early for the smaller attendance but as soon as the Northern Irish hope Frampton entered the arena, the atmosphere was among the best seen this season.
Both fighters were cagey from the opening bell and respected each other’s power but it was “The Jackal” who was getting the better of the action right throughout the first five rounds. This resulted in the Spanish champion being dropped in the fifth stanza by his younger opponent with a vicious right. “La Sensación” recovered quickly from the shot but the warning was already fired.
Frampton just seemed sharper, quicker and more precise with his shots whilst Martinez applied relentless pressure but just didn’t land nearly enough to sway the judges. Frampton slowed down down the stretch but still had enough ring savvy and technique to see off his older opponent.
The key to the victory was the superb footwork of the undefeated former European champion from Belfast; spinning in and out of range whilst keeping off the ropes meant Martinez looked one dimensional in his attacks.
Frampton almost stopped Martinez in the twelfth round after the Spaniard looked to have expended all his energy with an all out go-for-broke style charge, once weathered, the Northern Irishman backed his opponent up against the ropes for the first time in the fight and let out a barrage of punches; a stoppage looked to be imminent but ultimately both fighters were fatigued and the final bell rang.
New IBF champion Frampton won via a unanimous decision, with scores of 119-108 twice and 118-111; picking up his first world title to the jubilation of a rapturous Belfast crowd.
Immediately after the fight whilst being interviewed, the question was posed to the new champion, “What’s next? Is it Leo Santa Cruz the WBC champion for a big unification clash?”
To which the new champion responded, “No, the only man I want now is Scott Quigg. I’m the one with the REAL world title and I bring all the fans. I’ll fight him in Manchester or Belfast, I just want the fight made!”