Carl Frampton is aiming to impress on his second Commonwealth super bantamweight defence as he targets big showdowns with the hottest super bantamweight stars this year.
Frampton faces Ghanaian bantamweight champion Prosper Ankrah on March 17 at the Motorpoint Arena Sheffield live on Sky Sports 1, HD and in 3D, and his team say that another devastating performance is needed in the first clash of a three-fight plan that includes Scott Quigg, Rendall Munroe and Kiko Martinez.
The Belfast star claimed the vacant title with a fourth round stoppage of Australian Mark Quon in Belfast in September and impressed in his first defence with a brutal seventh round knockout of Kris Hughes at York Hall, Bethnal Green in January, taking his unbeaten record as a pro to 12 fights.
Fights with British king Quigg, former European and Commonwealth champ Munroe and current European belt holder Martinez have been touted in one of the most electric divisions in the sport and Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan is urging them to meet The Jackal in the ring in 2012.
“The three important guys along the route are Quigg, Munroe and Martinez, and we want to fight them before the end of the year,” said McGuigan.
“We're willing to stand up and be counted and we don't want to wait around for another year so let's do it. If Quigg and Munroe don't want to fight Carl then we’ll move on and tackle Martinez – which I feel is a harder fight – because we want the big fights now.
"The super bantamweight division is very tough and the boys at the top are very good, and it's not going to get weaker anytime soon, so there's no point hanging around. These would all be massive, crowd-pleasing fights that would capture the public’s imagination and everyone would win.
“Martinez is defending his title in March and hopefully he'll come through that and want to defend against Carl at the beginning or end of the summer. It's far more beneficial for Quigg and Munroe to fight Carl than it is each other, and we want to meet them both to set this division on fire.”
Frampton’s fight with Ankrah promises to be an exciting affair, with the challenger known for his aggressive front-foot approach and coming into the contest with 12 consecutive wins inside the distance. McGuigan is fully aware that the African poses a big threat, and says Frampton has to put on a show to secure a hometown fight in June.
“He knows has to win impressively in Sheffield,” said McGuigan. “It's very important to us that Carl fights in Belfast in June. The game is all about the fans, and you have to give them something to latch onto. Carl has had great support in London and he will in Sheffield, but Carl fighting in Belfast will be massive news and a big seller, the fans are desperate to see him and they will come in massive numbers.”
Hearn added: “This is the final stage of Carl's apprenticeship. We expect a tough challenge from Ankrah but we want Carl to go out there and look devastating. Carl and Barry show no fear when we talk about opponents and after we've got the win here we want a big summer fight in Belfast. We are already in contact with the Hatton's regarding Munroe and would love to face him, Martinez or Quigg next.”
Limited tickets for the ‘War of the Roses’ plus a full championship undercard now remain priced £30 and £100 from the Motorpoint Arena Sheffield Box Office on 0114 256 5656 and at www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk. £40, £60 and £150 VIP tickets have now sold-out.