Carl Frampton says his fight with Kiko Martinez is the biggest night of boxing that Ireland has seen “for many, many years” and vows to keep the European belt in Belfast.
Frampton fights for the Spaniard’s Super Bantamweight title on the undercard of Paul McCloskey’s bout with Breidis Prescott live on Sky Sports on Saturday September 10 at the Odyssey Arena in Northern Ireland’s capital.
The 24 year-old was named as one of Sky Sports’ 11 to watch in 2011 and has the chance to claim a major title in just his 11th professional bout. Martinez is in his third reign as European champion after defeating Jason Booth in April for the vacant strap but Frampton is adamant that ‘La Sensación’ will go home empty-handed.
“It's the biggest night of boxing that Belfast has seen in many, many years and the European title is a big belt to win,” said Frampton. “I'm looking to win this, defend it for 18 months and then move onto a World Title shot. I feel that I'm just shy of World Class level but I want to get there so winning this title and defending it will get me there.
“It's going to be a tough fight and I have a great deal of respect for Kiko – it's going to be the toughest fight of my career, both professional and amateur. I have trained well, camp has been great and I'm ready for 12 rounds now if you wanted to put me out there tomorrow.”
One man who knows plenty about big fight nights in Belfast is Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan. The Clones Cyclone was quick to concede that Martinez represents the strongest test of his protégé’s talent so far, but is confident he will see him off.
“There is a risk attached, of course there is,” said McGuigan. “Some will say that we've taken it too early, that's an accusation that has been levelled at us and its fair comment. But the game has changed in the last 20 or 30 years. A lot of fighters do their learning in the big fights and take greater risks these days because shows don't make money so you have to take the fights on the television shows like those Matchroom Sport have provided us with.
“I don't want to diminish Kiko as a fighter in any way, we see this as a massive test, but I know that Carl has the tools to beat him. That's all you need to know – he has too much in his armoury.
“Yes, it's only Carl's 11th fight – but Paul Weir won the World title in just his sixth fight, George Groves won the Commonwealth title in his ninth fight, James DeGale won the British title in his ninth fight – Carl has had 150 amateur fights, Martinez just 44 so Carl has three times the experience as an amateur.
"Now, nobody knows more than me that the pro game is different, with time and quality sparring Carl is making those little adjustments that are necessary. He has flair, he's got his own style, he's fantastically exciting to watch and I don't believe we've even seen 40 per cent of what he is capable of, and he's getting better all the time.
“Kiko hasn't fought someone like Carl. Has he fought someone as powerful? Possibly, but not someone with Carl's technique, skill and variety.”
McGuigan was also quick to praise Matchroom Sport and promoter Eddie Hearn for staging such a marquee event in Belfast.
“I'm thrilled to be associated with Matchroom,” said McGuigan. “They have been my preferred partner since I started as a professional, starting with Barry and now with Eddie, who has been a breath of fresh air since he came into the game, he knows his stuff inside and out, so we're thrilled to have this opportunity through them to fight Kiko Martinez.”
Tickets for Paul McCloskey vs. Breidis Prescott plus a full championship undercard led by Carl Frampton vs. Kiko Martinez are on sale now priced at £30-£200 (tickets may be subject to service charge) and available from the Odyssey Arena Box Office on 02890 73 9074, Ticketmaster 0844 277 4455 (24 hour). Tickets are also available in person from the Odyssey Arena Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, and online from www.ticketmaster.ie.