With new focus, the day of The Jackal is nearing

A change of team has Carl Frampton smiling again

In action against Garcia

In action against Garcia

By the age of 32, Carl Frampton had planned to be sat in front of the TV, with his feet up, championship belt on the mantle, enjoying retirement with a perfect, undefeated record.

Yet having just turned 31, he finds himself training harder than ever, running around Spain’s Mount Teide looking to regain the world title he lost a little over 12 months ago.

It’s been a tough time of late for the former two-weight champion, having tasted defeat for the first time in his 25-fight career following his WBA featherweight crown loss to Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas.

Away from the ring, things haven’t been much easier for ‘The Jackal’ either with a High Court battle over a financial dispute with former promoter Barry McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions. Thankfully, after a stressful few months and having cut ties with his promoter and trainer Shane McGuigan, Barry’s son, Frampton has been able to get back to basics and focus on matters with the gloves on.

Since his loss to Santa Cruz, the Belfast-born boxer got his career back on track last November with a unanimous decision victory against Mexican Horacio Garcia, in front of his home fans in Belfast’s SSE arena. Frampton returns to the scene of the crime in April when he faces a tough test against the tricky Filipino Nonito Donaire.

Despite all that’s gone on in the last year or so, Frampton told Sport360 in this exclusive interview that he’s enjoying life more than ever.

“I wish I felt like this five or six years ago,” he said. “I know I’m coming to the end of my career but I’m finally enjoying it. The change of faces and fresh ideas make me feel happy and excited to get into the gym everyday, whereas before it was a bit of a chore.”

“I’m training in Tenerife at the moment, which I’ve never done before, this is the first time I’ve done any sort of warm-weather training before a fight. We’re up the mountains every other day, running around Mount Teide, which is pretty hard. I’ve also reduced the number of rounds I’m doing now with my current trainer compared to what I was doing with my previous team,” added Frampton, who’s now under the watchful eye of former boxer Jamie Moore.

Manchester-based Moore, a former Commonwealth and European light middleweight champion himself, has been working with Frampton for the past few months – getting him in shape for next month’s bout.

Having been picked up by promoter Frank Warren, Frampton admits he’s eyeing a dream world title fight at Belfast’s Windsor Park, the home of the national football team, before hanging up his gloves.

“I want to win a world title in the home of Northern Ireland and I don’t think there’s a man in the division who will beat me,” he says.

“You can hear the crowd when you’re in the ring and it probably adds five per cent to my game. You’re talking small margins in boxing so that’s actually quite a lot. I wouldn’t say you hear individuals as such it’s more of a wall of noise but it’s something I feed off.”

Frampton added:”I don’t know what it would be like to be the opponent on the end of that because if you get hit, even if it’s not full-pelt the crowd gets excited and you’ve got to be a mentally strong person to cope with that. The atmosphere in Belfast is special so it certainly helps me.”

Seemingly rejuvenated with his re-found love of the sport, the former champ doesn’t wish to overlook Donaire knowing in this game any opponent can be a dangerous one if taken lightly. The concentration needed as a fighter when you’ve got your eyes on stadium fights and world titles is as tough as the physical training itself, admits the Belfast man.

“You need to be incredibly strong mentally. It’s a tough, individual sport, and once the bell goes you’re on your own so you have to be focused. There’s no such thing as an easy fight and the advice I would give any young fighter is you can’t be half-in with boxing. You need to either give everything you’ve got or don’t bother. It’s a short career so you’ve got to be completely dedicated to it,” he explains.

With a change of faces in the gym and a new routine, boxing is no longer just about making as much money as he could so he can quit the sport, which was Frampton’s previous mind-set. Now, he’s got the same zest for fighting as he had as a youngster, chasing his first world title belt.

“I’m not a superstitious person so my approach is training hard and believing that if I perform in the gym then that should be enough to beat any featherweight in the world, that’s where I get my confidence from,” he says.

During his chat with Sport 360, Frampton’s rekindled love for boxing is evident as he talks openly about the sport and offers his thoughts on the potential heavyweight blockbuster between current heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

“They’re such big punchers and they’ve both showed vulnerabilities in their last fights but come back to get the win so it would be a great fight. I would edge with Joshua but I don’t think Wilder gets the credit he deserves as a boxer because of the windmills he throws when he’s got someone in trouble. He can actually box and he has a nice jab as well,” he says.

While Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker will certainly capture the imagination of the casual fans, Frampton’s scrap with Donaire should prove equally intriguing and if the Belfast man is as rejuvenated inside the ring as he appears out of it, his world title fight will no doubt be just around the corner.