From the Grand Suite of the Europa hotel comes an outburst of laughter that isn’t usually associated with professional boxing. Jeremy Parodi doesn’t realise that he is being laughed at. His French translator need not gesticulate nor articulate the reason why. The moment has been lost on those who don’t identify with Belfast and its curious humour. Parodi has just been asked if he has ever fought an Irishman. His one word Gallic response, “Non.” The joke is live and opponent Carl Frampton smirks to acknowledge it. The punchline is essentially based on ignorance. Parodi has come to the wrong place looking for a fight. In this town, better to lie about your past encounters with the Irish than speak the truth that you await your first dance.
Frampton is being tipped for world domination at super bantamweight level. His approach certainly meets the standards of someone faced with achieving the target. “Im not going to talk tactics with my opponent next to me,” he says of the first media question coming his way. Should the fight with Parodi veer from its expected course he “will be able to change (my) plans.” These aren’t words of a fighter who speaks carelessly; he is referring to his impressive style inside the ropes, comfortable going forward as well as on the back foot. Few within Frampton’s weight division can offer single punch power and control like he can. Unlike most other boxers in his position, who usually command more interest from the public because of what they say rather than how they perform, the 26-year-old is sure of his ability without having to verbally threaten challengers with a knockout prediction.
On Saturday night, a sold out Odyssey arena will host Frampton for the second time. Only those unfamiliar with elite boxing and recent classic performances between two giants of the sport, will be unable to recall Frampton’s first appearance at the venue. On that occasion, he defeated Kiko Martinez by landing a stunning right handed punch. Unable to continue, the Spaniard suffered a stoppage loss for the first time in his career.
That moment in February has propelled Frampton to become one of the premier attractions in Irish and British boxing. Belfast billboards have prominently featured the ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ tagline for his dual with Parodi. A new appetite to support a hometown hero has found many in the city scrambling for tickets. They all want to see first-hand, how “The Jackal” manages to cope with the pressure of a world title eliminator contest. Should Parodi lose this bout, it is expected that a rematch between Frampton and Martinez will take place next year for the IBF crown. Neither corner will be considered a laughing stock whatever the outcome of that bout. If Frampton has the last laugh again, the world can finally join in with him.