Frank Warren’s promotion at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was focused around local hero Carl “The Jackal” Frampton. The former two-division world champion had to work hard to repel Mexico’s Horacio Garcia but prevailed by a unanimous decision. The tallies were 98-93, 97-93, and 96-93. The verdict wasn’t controversial, but many observers thought the scores were too wide. That undoubtedly went double for Guadalajara’s Garcia (33-4-1) and his entourage which included his friend Canelo Alvarez.
Frampton did well in the early rounds, but Garcia seemingly closed the gap in the middle rounds of the 10-round fight. A glancing blow from Garcia in round seven caught the Jackal off balance and he touched the canvas, forcing the referee to give him a count. It was a good action fight, especially in round eight when the combatants went toe-to-toe in the center of the ring.
Frampton (24-1), who was coming off a nine-and-a-half month layoff, rebounded from his first career loss. This was his first fight since splitting with the McGuigan’s — promoter Barry and his son Shane — and that imbued the match with a level of intrigue. He has his sights set on a rubber match with Leo Santa Cruz, but that may not transpire until 2019. A more likely possibility is Lee Selby, the Welshman who holds the IBF version of the featherweight title.
WBO bantamweight titlist Zolani Tete stole the show on the undercard with an 11-second knockout of South African countryman Siboniso Gonya. A southpaw, Tete unloaded a massive right hand with the first and only punch of the fight and it was lights out for Gonya who received oxygen before leaving the ring. Barring new information, Tete (28-1-1, 19 KOs) now owns the record for the quickest knockout in a world title fight. Tete is eying a match with Belfast’s Ryan Burnett, the IBF/WBA bantamweight title-holder.
In the co-main, brave but overmatched Jamie Conlan was taken to school by Filipino invader Jerwin Ancajas, the defending IBF super flyweight champion. It was the first loss for Conlan (19-1), the older brother of Top Rank’s prized prospect Michael Conlan.
In total, Ancajas (28-1-1, 19 KOs) scored four knockdowns, the last coming in round six. Conlan, who was saved by the bell in round three, beat the count, but the referee wouldn’t allow him to take any more punishment.
Also, Belfast flyweight Paddy Barnes improved to 5-0 with a sixth round KO of Nicaragua’s Eliecer Quezada (21-7-3). It was Barnes first win inside the inside.
A 2008 and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, the 30-year-old Barnes is on the fast track. He already holds a minor regional title and was reportedly promised a top 10 ranking by the WBO if he won this bout.
Barnes’ next appearance may come in Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s Day on a card that would include his Belfast compatriot Michael Conlan.
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