Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (25-1-0, 14KOs) will fulfill a dream on Saturday. The man from Belfast will box at Windsor Park, the national football stadium in Northern Ireland.
The former unified super-bantamweight and WBA “super” featherweight champion has long spoken of his desire to fight at the largest venue in his home city. A win on Saturday should deliver Frampton another world title shot in his next bout.
Still one of the main names and best boxers from the UK, Frampton will be roared on by around 25,000 of his fans at the weekend.
Stepping into the jackal's den to face the Irishman is Luke “Action” Jackson (16-0-0, 7KOs) of Australia. As well as the huge crowd being against him the contest is a big step up in class for Jackson.
The Australian represented his country at the 2012 Olympics and made his professional debut in 2013. He currently holds a regional belt (WBO Oriental 126lb title) but whether or not he will be able to seriously compete with Frampton remains to be seen.
As a long time fan of Frampton I always imagined his stadium date being a world title or unification fight. Unfortunately the current world title holders in the 126lb division are all unavailable or unwilling to travel to Belfast to be Carl's dance partner on the big stage.
So a defence of his interim WBO featherweight world title against “Action Jackson” it is for “The Jackal” at Windsor Park. What can we expect from the fight?
Firstly, as hinted at above, a win for Jackson would be very surprising to most, if not all observers. The time to face Frampton would have been at the end of 2017 as that year Framoton endured his only defeat before severing ties with his promoter, manager and trainer. Despite winning on his return to the ring in November 2017 the performance left us with more than a few questions.
Many of those questions were answered in Frampton's last outing in April. Carl looked to be back to near his best as he solidly out-pointed Nonito Donaire in a performance that eased the worries of his fans. The Donaire fight also showed evidence of a developing understanding between the boxer and his new trainer, Jamie Moore.
Possibly more bad news for Jackson is that with another full training camp together, Frampton and Moore will have had plenty of time to improve further and put together a plan for the visiting Australian. A plan will be needed as Jackson has a consistent pressure style and, according to the tale of the tape, a six inch reach advantage.
While Frampton has always been comfortable fighting off the back foot and counter-punching, he did look to have added some extra steel to his inside game during the Donaire fight. A combination of the two fighting styles could serve him well against Jackson as he steps into range against against his longer levered opponent.
As for Jackson – “Action” is known for his superb conditioning, body punching and possessing plenty of belief and determination. It has also been well documented in the buildup to this fight how Jackson suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and, for a time during his youth, he was in danger of being sucked into the black hole of drug and alcohol addiction.
It was the structure of boxing which helped Jackson escape the lure of drink and drug abuse and he also asked for help to deal with his OCD. Now, at 33-years-old, Jackson knows he is a huge underdog in Belfast on Saturday, but given what he has experienced in his life perhaps sharing the ring with Frampton won't be as daunting for Jackson as it would be for most men with only 16 pro bouts to their name.
I was interested to get some thoughts on Jackson from someone who has seen most of his fights. I contacted my Sydney based friend Luke Chapman, who told me this: “You would have to go a long way to find a harder working fighter who is more dedicated to their craft than Luke Jackson. In saying that I'm struggling to see past the holes in his 16-0 record and I'm struggling to see how he beats Frampton. He not a known puncher and I believe that he has never fought the level of competition that would even come close to preparing him for this fight. I believe he will hold his own as Carl himself is not a puncher but a mid to late stoppage would not surprise me. If Jackson goes the distance it's a moral victory.”
It appears that even in his homeland Jackson is not fancied for the upset win. For fans in Australia the action gets underway at 4am Sunday morning your time on Foxtel channel 506. Viewers in the United States can watch via Showtime's YouTube and Facebook channels from 3.30pn EST Saturday, while BT Sport will broadcast the event in the UK from 7.45pm BST.
Before Frampton and Jackson take to the ring there are two main supporting bouts that are worth mentioning. Home fighter Paddy Barnes (5-0-0, 1KO) has a chance to win a world title although it is a tough assignment. Nicaragua's Cristofer Rosales (27-3-0, 18KOs) will be in the opposite corner with his WBC flyweight title on the line. Rosales should be too good for Barnes at this stage but maybe the crowd will inspire Paddy to a famous win.
There will be plenty of worldwide interest in Tyson Fury's latest contest. Fury (26-0-0, 19KOs) faces Italian Francesco Pianeta (35-4-1, 21KOs) in his second fight back after his 31 month hiatus from boxing. Fury is expected to win and then move on to face WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder before the end of the year. Wilder will be in Belfast so expect some in-ring confrontation and banter between him and Fury after Tyson has dispatched Pianeta.
All of that will set the stage nicely for Frampton and Jackson to square off under the lights in what will be a very atmospheric setting. Frampton will want to win in style on his big night. Jackson is there to steal the show and elevate his career to greater heights. It should be a home win but in boxing stranger things have happened.
Belfast knows how to host a fight night and this stadium occasion is the biggest night in the city's recent boxing history. The atmosphere will be electric. If you can't be there to sample it first hand tune in and enjoy the magic unfolding from the UK's best fight city.