Carl Frampton and Nonito Donaire, two former fighter of the year winners looking to get back to world-title form, will fight each other in an effort to advance their goals.
They will meet in a 12-round featherweight showdown April 21 at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Frampton’s hometown, promoter Frank Warren announced on Tuesday.
The fight, which has been ticketed for the past couple of months, was initially eyed for April 7.
“It’s a brilliant fight, a [former] four-weight world champion against a [former] two-weight world champion,” Frampton said. “Has a bigger ‘away’ fighter ever come to fight in Belfast before? I don’t think there’s been a bigger name than Nonito Donaire, and he’s coming to fight a local guy in his hometown.
“But I think both of us are in the same situation — a slip-up here, and one of us might never fight for a world title again. There’s a lot on the line for both guys.”
Donaire, a Philippines native fighting out of Las Vegas, said he has no issue traveling to enemy grounds for the fight.
“This is exactly the type of fight I live for — going in against one of the best in the world in the lion’s den of his hometown of Belfast,” Donaire said. “I can’t wait for the first bell. I know I’ll have to be the best I can be on fight night. Make no mistake: I’m already training like never before.
“I plan to put on a spectacular show for my fans, his fans and boxing fans in general. When I walk out of the ring victorious, it will have all been worth it.”
Frampton has won world titles at junior featherweight and featherweight and won the 2016 fighter of the year award when he unified junior featherweight belts by outpointing Scott Quigg in a major rivalry fight and then came to the United States and turned back a stiff challenge in his first fight with Leo Santa Cruz to win a featherweight belt by majority decision.
Frampton (24-1, 14 KOs), 30, lost a majority decision in the rematch in January and then changed his promoter, manager and trainer. He returned for a 10-round decision win over Horacio Garcia on Nov. 18.
Donaire (38-4, 24 KOs), 35, has won world titles at flyweight, bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight and was the 2012 fighter of the year, when he won four fights, won a junior featherweight belt and then unified two titles.
In November 2016, Donaire lost a junior featherweight belt by controversial decision to Jessie Magdaleno. Then, in his first fight after parting ways with Top Rank and signing with promoter Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Sports, he won a lopsided 10-round decision against Ruben Garcia Hernandez in September.
“This is a fight between two of the best featherweights in the world, with multiple world titles between them. These are two fighters who are never boring in the ring, two fighters who come forward and love to engage,” Schaefer said. “If styles make fights — well, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
If Frampton wins, Warren said he would get him a summer world-title fight at Windsor Park, an outdoor soccer stadium in Belfast. Frampton, with expectations to defeat Donaire, said the fight is the perfect way to get him ready for a world-title bout, possibly against Wales’ Lee Selby (26-1, 9 KOs).
“He’s been at the top of four divisions, but he was in the same weight division as me for quite a while, and he’s someone I’ve always kept an eye on,” Frampton said of Donaire. “He’s someone I admire as well and I think he’s a great fighter, but I think this is the perfect fight to get me ready for a world-title fight in the summer.”
Said Warren: “This is a guaranteed barn burner between two elite featherweights. Both men have held multiple world titles and know that a win will lead to another shot at world glory. If Carl comes through this fight, then it’s the big one at Windsor Park in the summer next. That is what we promised him, and that is what we will deliver if he gets the win in April.”