Carl Frampton is not taking anything for granted in his opening fight of a massive year as he looks to extend his unbeaten record when he defends his title against Kris Hughes at York Hall on Saturday night live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1.
The Commonwealth champion is forever linked with huge title fights, but he insists that he is totally focused on the job in hand tonight, and it seems that the challenger has inadvertently helped ‘The Jackal’ sharpen his concentration ahead of the bout.
“He's a tall, awkward southpaw, he may be hard to get to for a while,” said Frampton. “But he's been saying a few things to reporters and online that I'm not worth the hype and so on, that's the sort of thing that motivates me so he's probably made his first mistake there as that will give me extra drive tonight.
“I had a look at his record and there's nothing much to shout about there. He's a big lad and he's boxed at Featherweight and Super Featherweight and above that as well. I don't know where that comment came from but there you go.”
Possible clashes with British champion Scott Quigg and European titlist Kiko Martinez have been put to the 24 year-old as fans and pundits lick their lips at the prospect of the super-bantamweight division exploding into life.
Again though, Frampton is keen to point out his focus is on tonight’s task and he knows that as a title holder there is added pressure in the fight.
“I approach every fight the same as the desired end result to every fight is always the same – victory,” said Frampton. “So I train really hard for every fight anyway, but I guess now I'm the champion that this guy is coming to take something from me so I'm know there's a target on my head. But my body is adapting all the time with every fight and I'm getting fitter and stronger all the time, it's much easier to do the rounds now.
“Training has been perfect – Barry is meticulous with everything we do in training and wrote down the other week that we had done over 150 rounds of sparring, so it's been great.
“This is a really big year and there are other fights out there besides Quigg and Martinez. But I'm totally focused on tonight – I've read things where he's said that he thinks we have overlooked him and are looking at fights beyond tonight, but that is not the case. Everything around the camp has been geared for him and I couldn’t be in better shape.”
Frampton claimed the vacant Commonwealth strap with a commanding performance against Australian Mark Quon in September in front of a massive hometown crowd at the Odyssey Arena. Tonight is his second outing at the York Hall and he’s
“It would have been great to have fought in Belfast but I've boxed here before and it's a great venue,” said Frampton. “There's a lot of boxing fans in the area and they know their stuff so you are always guaranteed a good crowd. John Ryder is on the bill too and he's a big ticket seller and I'll have a lot here too, so I hope tonight is a sell-out and that there's a great atmosphere as it always gives you that extra push and we can put on a great show.
“It's great to be topping the bill, a massive opportunity to showcase my talents and it's a tough task. It is important that you gain experience away from home as hopefully one day I'll be boxing for a World title and that might be away from home, so nights like this are very important.”
Frampton’s next fight could well be away from home – in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day. Matthew Macklin challenges Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden.
“Eddie Hearn and Barry have discussed about the New York fight and if I get through tonight injury-free it’s a real possibility,” said Frampton. “You dream about boxing in venues like Madison Square Garden when you are a kid and if I can get another win there then a fight with Kiko or Scott in the summer would surely be sealed.”