Carl Frampton admits Belfast swansong against Shakur Stevenson is in his sights

David Charlesworth, PA

Carl Frampton revealed a potential career swansong showdown against Shakur Stevenson in Belfast is an extra incentive to make history this month.

Frampton turns 34 six days before next stepping into the ring on February 27, when he will try to become the first Irish fighter to win world titles in three divisions as he takes on WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring.

While insisting his American rival has his undivided attention, Frampton has previously thought about retirement and he hinted a win over the highly-rated Stevenson in his home city would be the ideal way to bow out of boxing.

Carl Frampton is a two-weight world champion (Nick Potts/PA)
Carl Frampton is a two-weight world champion (Nick Potts/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “I have it on good authority that Shakur Stevenson would come to Belfast to fight me if I do beat Jamel. That’s a huge fight. That could be the sign-off – imagine beating Shakur Stevenson at Belfast.

“The chance for me to box in Belfast again in front of a big crowd is very appealing to me. Me and Shakur potentially at Windsor Park after Jamel Herring.

“But I’m not looking too far ahead, it’s one fight at a time, I need to beat Jamel Herring first.”

Stevenson, an Olympic silver medallist who won a world title in just his 13th professional fight, has vacated his WBO featherweight crown to move up to 130lbs and is in pole position to fight the Herring-Frampton winner.

Herring will have a five-inch height and seven-inch reach advantage over Frampton, who knows he is facing one of the stiffest tests of his professional career against the rangy southpaw in London.

Speaking to promote his Inside Fighting podcast, Frampton said: “It could be the toughest fight of my career. It’s going to be a difficult night but I’m relishing the chance to become a three-weight world champion.

“It’s just the simple fact that people are writing me off and thinking I’m too small to win this fight, that excites me.

“I can imagine what the pictures are going to look like, me and him, at the weigh-in. It’s just going to look ridiculous and like we shouldn’t be fighting each other, but that gets me excited to beat someone like that.”

The pair were supposed to fight in June last year in the Northern Irish capital but that was scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic, leading Frampton and Herring to take tune-up bouts last August and September respectively.

While Frampton (28-2, 16KOs) was untroubled as he outclassed then stopped Scotland’s Darren Traynor inside seven rounds, Herring (22-2, 10KOs) retained his title when Jonathan Oquendo was disqualified for repeated headbutts.

It was a fight that was rearranged on a number of occasions after Herring tested positive for coronavirus twice, while the southpaw speculated immediately after beating Oquendo that his fight against Frampton might be his last.

Frampton, a former super-bantamweight and featherweight world champion, said: “It was very negative, the things he was saying after that fight and I don’t think he should have said them, he probably regrets saying them.

“I suppose he’s fully focused on this fight now, but these are things that he did say. An issue is he shares too much on social media, he was sharing messages that his wife had said, she wants him to retire and all this.

“My wife wants me to retire but I’m not posting messages about it all over social media. It was all a wee bit negative from him after and he’s changed his tune recently.”

However, Frampton is not taking any mental edge from the comments, given the 35-year-old’s past as a former Marine who served in the Iraq war.

Frampton added: “He’s got to be a mentally strong person, he’s come through a lot in his life to date, so I’m not having a dig at how strong he is mentally, I think he will be strong.

“But I think that is a regret he will have of saying the things that he did say.”

:: The first two episodes of Inside Fighting are out now, available on all major podcast platforms and YouTube

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