Carl Frampton remains on track for a world title fight at Windsor Park this summer after outpointing the dangerous Nonito Donaire at Belfast’s SSE Arena.
The Northern Irishman is eyeing another shot at a featherweight crown, with WBO titlist Oscar Valdez on his radar as well as the winner of next month’s fight between IBF beltholder Lee Selby and Josh Warrington.
And Frampton pushed his cause with a commanding display against former four-weight world champion Donaire, who gave his opponent a couple of scares but largely came off second best.
All three judges scored the contest 117-111 – or nine rounds to three – as Frampton earned the interim WBO featherweight title.
Frampton, who improved his professional record to 25 wins from 26 fights, told BT Sport: “The only thing on my mind at the minute is Windsor Park and I can’t wait to get there.
“Everyone knows how excited I am, I can’t wait for it. There’s not a man on this planet at featherweight that’s going to beat me at Windsor Park.”
Promoter Frank Warren confirmed an outdoor event at Northern Ireland’s national football stadium is next for Frampton.
Never in doubt 😏
Carl Frampton is declared the winner over Nonito Donaire.
A professional display 👊 pic.twitter.com/eAORmDKy3u
— Boxing on BT Sport (@BTSportBoxing) April 21, 2018
He added: “We’re going to be in Windsor Park in August and obviously all the bits will fall into place regarding who the opponent will be over the next month or so.”
Golfer Rory McIlroy was ringside as Frampton looked to bounce back from an underwhelming display against Horacio Garcia last November, his first bout with trainer Jamie Moore in his corner.
And the 31-year-old, who has won world titles at super-bantamweight and featherweight, proved that display was little more than a blip against an opponent who slumped to his fifth defeat in the paid ranks.
Donaire has been an elite performer in the lower weights for much of the last decade and the 35-year-old started well with a couple of decent body blows in an otherwise unremarkable opening round.
Frampton upped the tempo in the second with a ferocious flurry igniting the contest, and a straight right left Donaire with swelling under his left eye that worsened throughout the fight.
More eye-catching blows came from the home favourite in the third, with a couple of sharp rights finding their way through Donaire’s high defensive guard.
The fighters traded more punishing blows in the fourth when Frampton forced his foe on to the ropes, but once again it was the Northern Irishman’s punches that appeared to be more telling.
Donaire brought his vaunted left uppercut into play in the fifth although Frampton ended the round strongly before using his movement to good effect to beat his foe to the punch in the sixth.
Frampton was momentarily buzzed by an uppercut after forcing Donaire to the ropes in the seventh but responded valiantly as he traded fierce blows with his older foe.
It seemed that would be his only moment of danger as Donaire started to slow, with Frampton increasing his lead on the scorecards in the eighth, ninth and 10th.
But Donaire responded to being pushed on the floor in the 11th with some wild hooks that stunned Frampton, who was forced to retreat.
The success was fleeting for Donaire as Frampton closed the show in style although he admitted afterwards: “I didn’t have to get involved in a fight there. Nonito Donaire is a dangerous m**********r.
“He was a sharp puncher throughout. In the 11th round I was definitely hurt, I’m not going to deny it, but I survived it and that’s what champions do, they survive.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Amir Khan turned his attention to a fight with fellow Briton Kell Brook after beating Phil Lo Greco in 39 seconds on a devastating return to the ring at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
It had been two years since Khan last fought, when he was brutally knocked out by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, but he made up for lost time by swiftly seeing off Canadian Lo Greco with a first-round knockout.
Lo Greco first hit the canvas when Khan caught him flush with a right and, though he got back up, it was soon over as the 31-year-old’s flurry of left hands forced the end.
Khan displayed no ring rust following his hiatus and showed the hand speed which once won him a world title had also not slowed.
It was also an emphatic message to one of his bitter rivals watching from ringside.
Brook was booed by the crowd when shown on the big screens and when he came inside the ropes after the contest, he was assured Khan was coming for him next.
“I want to become a world champion again so I want to fight the top guys in the welterweight division,” Khan told Sky Sports Main Event.
“I’m a 147lb fighter. I moved up to 150lb for this fight because I’ve not been in the ring for two years. That (Brook) fight I’m not rushing and I’m not running away from.
— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) April 22, 2018
“I will fight Kell Brook and I will beat Kell Brook. I’m a better fighter and a stronger fighter.
“I’m not a fighter to run away. I came to Eddie (Hearn) and signed a deal with your promotional company, Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom company. I’m chasing you, remember that.”
Khan was clearly not in the mood for lengthy exchanges in the ring as he left after addressing Brook before his foe could respond to him.
Brook then goaded Khan for his stint on reality television show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!.
“He’s just run off, he doesn’t want the fight,” Brook added.
“All the fans want the fight. I want the fight. He can go in the jungle and chase stars but when he gets in there with me I’ll make him see stars!”
The possibility of Brook and Khan meeting in the ring was enhanced when the latter buried the hatchet with Hearn and signed a three-fight deal with Matchroom in January.
Hearn had warned Khan he could not afford a fifth professional loss if he wanted more high-profile bouts, and his fighter’s performance in Liverpool will only have made him a more attractive proposition when he reaches negotiating tables.
— Rambo (@WelshRamsey) April 21, 2018
“What a great performance from Amir Khan; he’s back,” Hearn said.
“People ask me, ‘Has he still got the speed?’ I think he might be quicker!
“I would love the Brook-Khan fight, we’ll have to see. Kell Brook will be back in the ring in July. He’s chasing the 154(lb) world champions but that fight will always be a big fight.
“I would hate for one day these boys to get old and one day look back and kick themselves for not making this fight. The British public want to see Khan against Brook and we should deliver what the British public want.
“Kell Brook doesn’t like Amir Khan. Amir Khan doesn’t like Kell Brook. This fight should have happened 12 months ago, two years ago. We’ve still got time. Let’s not regret it.”
Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao insisted Friday that his advancing years were no barrier to success as he gears up for a showdown against world champion Lucas Matthysse.
Pacquiao, 39, will fight the Argentine — four years his junior — for the World Boxing Association welterweight belt on July 15 in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
The Filipino has won an unprecedented eight world titles in different weight classes but some have raised questions about his ability to box at the top of his game due to his age.
But at a joint press conference with Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, he dismissed such concerns.
“It’s not about a number, it’s not about age, that doesn’t matter,” he said.
“It depends how you discipline yourself in training, how you prepare.”
Pacquiao said that the fight against Matthysse would not be his last, as he wants the final bout of his career to take place in his homeland.
“Definitely this is not my last fight,” he said. “I think I still have got a couple of more fights (until I) retire.”
Pacquiao is currently a senator in the Philippine parliament and many in the country believe he will one day run for president, although the boxer has insisted he is happier in the ring than politics.
He conceded that it was “not easy” to juggle being a top-level boxer and politician.
Matthysse — who took the vacant WBA welterweight title in January — has expressed confidence that he can beat Pacquiao, describing the Filipino as a diminished star.
VIDEO World champion Lucas Matthysse vows a fight "to the death" in his July title defence against Manny Pacquiao, winner of eight unprecedented world titles in different weight classes pic.twitter.com/GEi2oyLCqt— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) April 18, 2018
At Friday’s press conference, he said he was a “pretty big puncher with both hands, so that gives me a lot of confidence”.
Pacquiao has not fought since he lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown in a shock points defeat to Australia’s Jeff Horn last year, and has not knocked out an opponent in nearly nine years.
The Kuala Lumpur bout will likely mark the first time in 15 years that Pacquiao will be fighting without his long-standing US trainer Freddie Roach, who expressed hurt last week after saying ties have been cut.
The boxer has suggested that role might go to his own friend and compatriot Buboy Fernandez, at least for the Matthysse bout.