It’s not the ending he wanted but it is the exit that was promised by Carl Frampton in absence of becoming a three-division champ.
The 34-year-old fighting pride of Belfast, Northern Ireland stayed true to a pre-fight promise that he would call it a career in the event he fell short in his latest title. Such was the precise outcome, as Frampton was floored twice en route to a 6th round stoppage loss at the hands of WBO junior lightweight titlist Jamel Herring. Their ESPN+-aired bout took place Saturday evening at Caesars Palace Bluewaters in Dubai, which has apparently housed his final ring appearance.
“I said before the fight that I’d retire if I lost,” a teary-eyed Frampton stated afterward. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ve been away too long. I missed them growing up, my own kids. I want to give my life to my family.”
“I just got beat by the better man,” admitted the always humble Frampton after the lone knockout loss of his career. “I really struggled to get inside. He was sharpshooting from a distance and executed a perfect game plan.”
All three career defeats for Frampton (28-3, 16KOs) have come on the title stage and following his 2016 Fighter of the Year campaign.
The fighting pride of Belfast—who sought to become the first boxer from anywhere in Ireland to win titles in three weight divisions—won his first crown in a 12-round decision win over Kiko Martinez in Sept. 2014. The repeat victory netted Frampton the IBF junior featherweight title, which he defended thre times. The last of the lot came in a 12-round nod over bitter rival Scott Quigg in their Feb. 2016 battle of unbeaten junior featherweight titlists. Frampton unified the IBF and WBA belts with the win before ending his near two-year reign to move up to featherweight.
It was there where he bumped off his second straight unbeaten foe, outpointing Leo Santa Cruz to claim a featherweight belt in their July 2016 thriller at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The bout marked the last time Frampton would win in a title fight, conceding the crown to Santa Cruz in their rematch six months later.
A win over former four-division titlist Nonito Donaire in April 2018 breathed new life into Frampton’s career, only to come up well short in a 12-round loss to then-unbeaten IBF featherweight titlist Josh Warrington in Dec. 2018.
Two wins above the featherweight limit followed in pursuit of attempting to become a three-division titlist. The journey came with several delays, with the fight versus Herring first due to take place last June in Belfast. The event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with both scoring stay-busy wins last summer. Two more delays followed before the fight relocated to Dubai, where Frampton’s 12-year career comes to a close.
“Boxing’s been good to me, it’s also been bad to me in recent years,” admits Frampton, who is 5-3 in his last eight fights. “I’ve enjoyed the best years of my career and now I just want to go home to my beautiful wife and kids.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox