Frampton to rule the world
Our Simon Crawford believes Carl Frampton will beat Kiko Martinez on Saturday night and become a world champion.
- Related Content
Imagine your reaction after being told your first world title fight will be against a reigning champion you have already convincingly beaten before.
I think you'd have to be fairly happy with life!
Well that's the scenario facing Belfast star Carl Frampton when he faces champion Kiko Martinez for the IBF super-bantamweight crown in his home city on Saturday night.
'The Jackal' stopped Spaniard Martinez in nine rounds with a solid right hand to win the European title back in February 2013 and with home advantage once again this weekend you could be forgiven for thinking that the belt is already round his waist.
But there's more to it than that.
Since that defeat 28-year-old Martinez (31-4 23KOs) has regrouped in impressive fashion.
One fight after that loss to Frampton he went to America and stopped Colombian Jhonatan Romero in six rounds to win the world title and then defended it against veteran South African Jeffrey Mathebula.
His last outing was arguably the best of his career so far as he went to Japan and stopped local favourite Hozumi Hasegawa in seven rounds, flooring him three times in total.
He has already experienced the extreme support Frampton receives in Belfast so that will hold no fears for him, plus he is no stranger to Britain having twice fought Leicester's Rendall Munroe.
Whatever happened in that first fight can be forgotten now as Martinez has improved since then and has done so quickly. His self-belief and confidence have been restored and at 28 he is surely coming into his prime.
The Spaniard has a high work-rate and throws huge volumes of punches that are also spiteful as his 23 career knockouts suggest.
He will look to outwork Frampton and attempt to nullify his power by keeping out of range.
However, I still think Frampton will become Britain's latest world champion.
Since beating Martinez, the 27-year-old Barry McGuigan protege (18-0 13KOs) has stopped Jeremy Parodi and Hugo Fidel Cazares in impressive fashion.
The Ulsterman appears to be the complete boxer - power punches, a stiff, intimidating jab, good footwork, a tight defence and a solid chin.
There appear to be few chinks in the armour, although some might say a world title shot after just 18 fights is too soon.
But he's 27 and has already won the British, Commonwealth and European titles so for me it's natural progression to now move up to this level.
Frampton had too much power for Martinez in their first meeting, but I think the champion will be more cautious this time and the Irishman will have to show plenty of patience if he is to land that big, defining shot.
The opportunity might not come so he will have to box his way to victory and I think he is more than capable of doing that.
A purpose-built stadium has been created in Belfast to stage this fight, holding 16,000 spectators, which has been nicknamed 'The Jackal's Den' and and I think Frampton's fans will roar him onto victory.
The layers also think the same way with Frampton a general best of 2/9, with Martinez a widely available 4/1.
A repeat of Frampton's ninth-round stoppage in their first meeting is sure to prove popular and is a general 14/1.
But I think this fight will go the distance because of the sheer magnitude of what is at stake and because I think Martinez has improved since that first meeting.
However, I also believe Frampton is still the better fighter so I'm taking the general 15/8 being offered on him to win by decision or technical decision - and I think it will be by a comprehensive margin.
- Preview posted at 1345 BST on 04/09/2014