To put on a successive sell-out show in Belfast is a rarity. To gather a crowd to their feet in anticipation of something great is rarer yet. To finally deliver explosive drama inside five minutes and leave the city breathless for more is the epitome of class. Only Carl Frampton could have journalists hastily trying to make sense of a fight that was so one sided, they had to believe his opponent hid from truthfully explaining the cause of defeat. Embarrassments happen in boxing but none are as bewildering as not being able to count to ten in English – for that is what Frampton claimed Hugo Cazares was guilty of.
Moments before the WBC super-bantamweight world title eliminator fight began at the Odyssey Arena, one fan could be heard shouting “Right away Carl, right away,” emphasising the confidence of a home crowd, safe in the belief that their man would win in the early rounds. And right away, Frampton dominated the middle of the ring on the sound of the first bell: just as he had been directed by trainer Shane McGuigan. Cazares sought to busy Frampton with extra work in the opening round by switching from orthodox to south paw but the local favourite delivered a hard right shortly before the bell that struck his rival flush on the head. 3 minutes of an intelligent battle done.
Devastatingly better boxing arrived immediately as the want of Frampton reigned with gusto. Separated by referee Victor Loughlin after a tangling of legs, both fighters were instructed as far from one another as possible. Upon assessing Cazares’ complaint that he had received an illegal punch to the leg, the contest restarted for the last time. Frampton, having to step away from a potential right hand to his head, ducked beneath it and opening his shoulders unleashed a startling left fist that dropped Cazares against the ropes.
No standard version of what followed has since been agreed upon by either camp but it is certain that Loughlin held ten fingers inches from the face of Cazares, as he failed to stand up right. Cazares point of contention centers on an idea that the spoken count differed from the action of the referee’s fingers. The suggestion among ringside galleries that he winked to Frampton moments after being knocked down adds little to his sorry words. He did however take manfully to the Odyssey’s Millennium room to give a post fight conference and continue his firm explanation for a premature loss. “I wanted to wait as long as possible (during the count) the referee should have looked into my eyes.” The stale air of defeat inside the room didn’t linger long as Frampton entered to a congratulating press.
Sat at his table, alongside Shane and Barry McGuigan, the 27 year old was keen to talk about the finishing punch. “One of my best,” he said with a knowing smile. What brought more delight to his promoter was not only the execution of his boxers left hook but the style of the winning shot. “He did it coming forward on the front foot.” It will not have gone unnoticed that a similar style and well-rehearsed combination ended Kiko Martinez time as European super-bantamweight champion.
Frampton seems to have improved on his already formidable punching power too, which he puts down to Shane. “He tells me I’m hitting harder and I’m taking on more weights in the gym.” On last night’s evidence few within the division will care to dispute the case Frampton puts forward of being the most powerful puncher in the division. While Belfast waits for a possible world title match up between Leo Santa Cruz and Frampton, it is likely that home fans will be disappointed, with the American East and West coasts standing as the two favourite potential destinations of the bout.