Carl Frampton didn’t need to be at his best in order to post his latest win; he simply just needed to make it to the ring in order to move forward with much bigger plans later in the year.
The former two-division titlist from Belfast managed his first win of 2020, scoring a 7th round knockout of late replacement Darren Traynor in their ESPN-televised main event Saturday evening in East London, England. A left hook to the body dropped Traynor in round six, with another body shot forcing the stoppage one round later.
It was—by his own admission—far from the best performance turned in by Frampton, but enough to get the job done and preserve a shot at reigning 130-pound titlist Jamel Herring. The night left him with a welt under his left eye and some things to work on heading into his shot at becoming a three-division champ.
“I was happy to get the win and I was far from my best, but people talk about getting the rounds and it’s not going to harm me getting the rounds,” Frampton said after advancing to 29-2 (16KOs). “But I know I need to be a lot better for Herring. It was good to get the rounds done and my hands are fine. Onwards and upwards.”
Frampton and Herring (21-2, 10KOs) were originally slated to fight on June 13 in Frampton’s Belfast hometown, only for the event to get shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It was for that same reason that Frampton’s latest fight came without fans in attendance, with his support group limited to home viewers.
Among them was his next opponent.
“Congrats to him. Like he mentioned at the end of the fight, it definitely wasn’t his best performance,” Herring told BoxingScene.com. “He was getting hit a lot from the outside in the early stages of the fight. He looked like at one point he was just a step slower than he was earlier in his career.
“But at the end of the day, he got the job done. He did what he had to do.”
Herring will have to do what’s necessary to keep alive what will represent his most lucrative and notable opportunity to date. The decorated U.S. Marine and 2012 U.S. Olympic Boxing team captain is next due to face Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo (31-6, 19KOs) in the second defense of his 130-pound title on September 6 in Las Vegas.
The date marks the third attempt at scheduling the bout, with the first two tries both postponed due to Herring providing positive test results for COVID-19. The second time around proved to be the equivalent of a false positive, though too late to preserve the fight by that point. Now, he will face an already upset-minded challenger who was twice slighted for his shot at a first major title.
“Of course, I still have to go out there and handle my business and perform to the best of my abilities,” notes Herring, for that very reason refusing to read too much into Frampton’s latest performance. “I’m not looking past Jonathan Oquendo. I know they’re looking to make an upset. That right there can give fighters plenty all the motivation they need,
“I’m not gonna take this fight as the blueprint in terms of what I need to do. We all can say we expected a little bit more from Carl. It goes with being held to a higher [standard]. He was the Fighter of the Year in 2016, and has been in phenomenal championship fights. I guess we just have come to expect that Carl Frampton.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox