Frampton v Gonzalez Jr Preview

With Belfast's undefeated world champion expected to breeze through his US debut, fans should be reminded that boxing is full of uncertainty

When Carl Frampton steps out into the arena at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas against Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Jr in the second defence of his IBF Super Bantamweight crown today, at three o’clock local time, the hopes of this nation will, once again, be resting on his shoulders.

Crowned Northern Ireland’s most recent world champion boxer last autumn, the Tiger’s Bay man has built a loyal following of fans, all of whom are expecting the 28 year old’s reign at the top of his sport to be both long and prosperous.

And while Gonzalez appears, on the face of it, to present a relatively easy night of entertainment for those watching live on CBS and ITV alongside the 12,000-strong crowd in the basketball venue, there is a rule of thumb that should be applied. Boxing mirrors life in that it is always full of uncertainty.

Those of us, who have been around a while, will remember back to a hot June day in 1986, when Frampton’s mentor and manager Barry McGuigan was brought to his knees in the sweltering heat of the midday sun at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas by the unfancied Texan, Steve Cruz.

One can be sure that McGuigan has reminded his protégé of how his WBA featherweight title was surrendered that afternoon in Nevada and that any repetition of the unthinkable is…well… unthinkable.

While Frampton has been acclimatising to the mid-summer conditions with work outs scheduled for the high temperatures of the afternoon bout, he is thankfully being spared the physical endurance of having to fight outside in the intense sunshine.

Speaking to the media in El Paso, Frampton, as ever, remains focused on the job in hand. 'Some people see Gonzalez as an underdog but I don't see it like that. I see him as another obstacle standing in my way. I'll have to be at my best to beat him,' says the champion.

Gonzalez is six years Frampton’s junior and with a record card that shows two defeats and a draw in 25 professional outings, this son of a former Mexican world champion knows the worth that a knockout performance on live television would bring to his career.

So, too, does Frampton, who intends to make the most of this first appearance in the USA. 'He’s tall and rangy and comes from good pedigree but I have got everything and more to beat him. I'd be disappointed not to knock this guy out,' surmises the IBF champion.

Frampton has never been a slacker in his preparations and given the hours of pummeling that his sparring partners have been exposed to in recent weeks, it’s not unreasonable to expect that Gonzalez will be fortunate to stay on his feet for six rounds and that the IBF belt can be safely stowed away for the return flight to North Belfast.

Coverage of Frampton v Gonzalez Jr begins at 9pm UK time on ITV with the World Title bout scheduled for 9.45pm.