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Interview: Carl Frampton

Interview: Carl Frampton
© PA Photos
Sports Mole catches up with Carl Frampton ahead of his European Super-Bantamweight title fight with Kiko Martinez on February 9.

Northern Irish super-bantamweight Carl Frampton has declared that Spanish opponent Kiko Martinez has doubts in his mind ahead of their European title clash.

Frampton has racked up 15 consecutive wins in the professional ranks and "The Jackal" has quickly gained a reputation as one of British boxing's most promising contenders.

Under the guidance of Barry McGuigan, the Belfast brawler believes that he will prove too strong for Martinez on February 9 to send out a message to his world-title rivals.

Sports Mole caught up with Frampton to talk about world title aspirations, big nights of boxing in Belfast and hopes of a clash with domestic rival Scott Quigg.

Hi Carl, we are just over a fortnight away from your fight with Kiko Martinez. How are you feeling and how have your preparations gone to date?
"Preparations have been really good, every fighter will stand there and say the same but it is genuinely is going really well. I've done 145 rounds of sparring already and we've still got two weeks to go. I'm in great shape, feeling fit and strong and excited to finally get this fight, it's been a long time coming."

Did you feel like he was ducking you and this fight would never come?
"A few times yeah, he's pulled out twice. I don't think he wants the fight, he's been forced into it because we got ourselves into a mandatory position. He's got a new promoter, Sergio Martinez, backing him who's been making big statements about knockouts. We'll see on fight night but I'm ready for this, I was ready over a year ago and I've improved so it's gonna be a worse beating for him."

Kiko has won two of his last three fights by KO and has experience of winning fights on these shores. How do you prepare for a more dangerous opponent like this in a higher class?
"I like to think I can take a good shot, I spar light welterweights and even go up as far as light middleweights. No doubt Kiko can punch but I don't believe he's faced anyone who can hit as hard as me. He's definitely the hardest puncher I've faced so I've new things to get around, but if you look at his opponents to date he's never fought anyone like me. He's been in with Rendall Munroe twice and Takalani Ndlovu but I believe I'm better than both of those guys."

How do you envisage this fight playing out - a test into the later rounds or a quick finish?
"Well we need to be smart and careful early on because he carries his punch the whole way through the fight. A lot of people have been saying to ride the storm for four or five rounds and put it on him after that. But two fights ago he knocked Jason Booth out in the tenth, which shows he can carry through into the later rounds. I'll be careful but if I see a chance I've got enough power to take him out at any time in the fight, whether that's in the first or last round. If I see an opening I'll be taking it."

Do you feel like this fight represents a turning point in your career, where we start to see you mix it in a higher class and build towards knocking on the door for bigger things?
"I think the Steve Molitor fight sent out a statement to everyone that I mean business. That was a big win for me. I'm aware this is another step up. Kiko's a live opponent and a dangerous fighter, he's been training in America since November apparently, so I think he's taking it seriously. I think after pulling out twice he's gonna have doubts in his mind and come February 9th he's gonna be in for a shock."

What does getting the chance to headline at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast again add to the occasion? Does it add any extra pressure fighting for a home crowd?
"Listen, I love boxing in Belfast, I want to box there as often as I can and it's a big day for me to be boxing at home. One day I would love to box in the States, that's an ambition of mine, but Belfast is my home and people are making a lot of noise for me there. People are coming out and spending their hard-earned money on me so I want to repay them and bring big nights of boxing and world title fights back to Belfast."

Do you pay much attention to the division at a global level with an eye to targeting a title holder further down the line?
"To be honest after Kiko, the only other fight in Europe that would interest me is Scott Quigg. No-one else comes close. If we can get a guarantee that Quigg would fight me, I'd be there in a heartbeat. If he's not interested then we will look to world titles. Romero and Lopez are fighting for the vacant IBF title next month, I'd be happy to take either of those guys on. Even Abner Mares is another fight I'd like to get. I think Nanito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux are a little bit in front and Top Rank can make that fight. I'm about a year away from challenging one of those guys but anyone else I can take on straight away."

We can't get through a chat with you without mentioning Scott Quigg's name and that bubbling domestic rivalry. Does it irritate you to talk about him so often, or does it just build anticipation for a fight in the future?
"Honestly it's alright, I don't mind it. It's a rivalry and what people want to see in British boxing. Probably our greatest ever era had Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Steve Collins and all those guys fighting each other regularly. It could be the same here for us if people want to make the big fights happen. I certainly want to fight, I want to be part of huge nights of boxing and be involved in fights people will remember. If I beat Martinez and can't get Quigg next I'll be forced to look elsewhere."

Have the last 12 months been frustrating at all, having the Kiko fight cancelled twice and a potential scrap with Quigg put on the shelf for now?
"Yeah, it has definitely been frustrating because you've got to keep the fans happy and give them the fights they want to see regardless of titles. That's the way to keep interest high. After Tyson Fury and David Price, me and Quigg is the most talked-about fight domestically. He's been offered a lot of money, I'm talking big, big money. He can say what he wants but I really want that fight to happen sooner rather than later."

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Carl Frampton on May 26, 2012
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