EXCL: Carl Frampton fancies future fight with Lee Selby at the Principality Stadium

EXCL: Carl Frampton fancies future fight with Lee Selby at the Principality Stadium

Belfast’s Carl Frampton (22-0, 14KO) fancies a meeting with Wales’ IBF world champion Lee Selby (23-1, 8KO) at the Principality Stadium in the near future.

The unbeaten Irishman has recently moved four pounds north to join the featherweight division and challenge WBA world champion Leo Santa Cruz in New York City on 30 July, swimming in the same waters as Selby.

In March, the representatives of both boxers, Cyclone Promotions and Sanigar Events, confirmed that preliminary talks had been held for a domestic dust-up between the pair. It would be a major event and Frampton is open to the possibility of coming to Cardiff to headline the Principality [formerly Millennium] Stadium.

Speaking at last night’s maiden joint event between Cyclone Promotions and Sanigar Events at the Ice Arena in Cardiff Bay, Frampton said: “Of course [he would like to fight in Cardiff], why not? Obviously, the fight with Lee Selby has been talked about. I’m moving up to featherweight now. If I can get past Santa Cruz, which I’m hoping I can, then that’s a huge fight.

“Selby is a fighter I respect. I don’t want to be one of these guys who is going around calling guys out because I really respect Lee Selby, I think he’s one hell of a fighter. The Welsh fan base and the Irish fan base will get right behind that and it’s a great fight. They’ll create an amazing atmosphere in the future.”

In the right circumstances, packing out the 74,000 capacity venue isn’t an unreal possibility for Frampton, owner of one of world boxing’s biggest and most dedicated fan bases. More than 10,000 supporters followed ‘The Jackal’ to North West England in February when he out-pointed Bury’s Scott Quigg to unify the IBF and WBA super-bantamweight world titles. It’s very likely even more would have travelled if tickets were available for the sold-out event at the Manchester Arena.

The event was broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office Pay-Per-View and boosted by a clash of personalities between the camps, most notably from Quigg’s trainer and promoter, Joe Gallagher and Eddie Hearn. A fight with Selby would lack that hostility as both teams have a healthy working relationship but Frampton believes if both of them held belts, then a high quality unification would sell itself to their respective fan bases.

Frampton, a year older than Selby at 29-years-old, said: “If Lee’s a world champion and I’m a world champion at featherweight, it could be bigger [than the Quigg fight]. I don’t think we have the rivalry that me and Quigg had but both of our names are out there and we’re getting bigger and better all of the time. That could be a huge fight, it could really be.

“Lee’s a very good fighter, I’ve always said it and I really rate his brother, Andrew – he’s one of the most skilled fighters I’ve ever seen. I’ve thought a lot of Lee for a long time, he’s a big featherweight. It wouldn’t be an easy fight by any means, I think it would be a very difficult fight but I believe I have the tools to beat him.”

The decision to vacate the IBF and WBA belts to move to from 122lbs to 126lbs was bold but Frampton insists it will be a beneficial one. He wasn’t the tallest in the lighter division and will take steps in training with up-and coming-coach Shane McGuigan, son of International Boxing Hall of Fame entrant Barry, to deal with larger operators.

Frampton said: “I’m enjoying it and I’m enjoying boxing again. It’s not going to be busting my balls constantly to make the super-bantamweight limit. I genuinely made it comfortably against Quigg – the easiest I’ve made it for a while but it’s not easy and it’s not getting any easier.

“When I do it right and there’s no messing about, no cheating, I can do super-bantamweight but the big fights are at featherweight. I won world titles at super-bantamweight and when you’re offered Leo Santa Cruz at featherweight, it’s hard to say no.

“I finished my amateur career at featherweight and I’m adding an extra weights session in a week now, as well. I’m trying to get as big as I can to fit in to featherweight, not just eat my way up to it.”

Frampton’s visit to Cardiff last night, working as a pundit for Channel 5, was his first time in the Welsh capital since 2011. On that occasion, he collected the Celtic title and was made to work for it by Cefn Fforest’s tricky Robbie Turley.

That testing experience led to him making a decision to spend more time away from his young family and with Shane McGuigan in South East England on a more permanent basis, which has proved to be a very fruitful relationship.

Reflecting on the turning point of his career, Frampton said: “It was [a pivotal moment in his career]. It wasn’t a great performance from me. I got the win, which is obviously important, but that was the moment I realised I needed to be training with Shane full time. It was a big part of my career.

“I met Robbie again tonight, actually. We had a good chat and he’s a good guy. Robbie was a decent fighter, very awkward and he give me a bit of trouble that night.”