Carl Frampton knows his dream fight will turn into a nightmare if he underestimates Luke Jackson on Saturday.
The Northern Irish featherweight wanted a marquee name for his long-awaited appearance at the redeveloped Windsor Park in Belfast, home of the nation’s football team.
But Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs) insists he has not underprepared for Australian Jackson (16-0, 7 KOs), who will be fighting outside of his homeland for the first time.
“I want bigger names than Luke Jackson like the trilogy fight with Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez and Josh Warrington, but I need to get past Jackson first,” Frampton said.
“None of the top boys were available so we picked someone highly ranked by the WBO, not a household name. But he’s a good solid fighter.
“I thought we may have bother selling out but we sold out which is incredible.”
Frampton has daydreamed about what it would be like fighting on the pitch in front of a capacity crowd, estimated at 23,000 for Saturday, while cheering on Northern Ireland in the stands.
Now the 31-year-old, a former world champion at featherweight and super bantamweight, gets the chance to fulfill that dream, albeit against an opponent with a low profile.
“At a big Northern Ireland game I think about how it would look, the ring in the middle of the pitch and what the atmosphere would be like,” Frampton said.
“The atmosphere at Windsor Park is one of the best atmospheres in sport.
“It’s a dream come true [to box at Windsor Park]. I’ve been thinking about it for the last few years now, now it’s finally happening. There was a time when I thought maybe it’s not going to happen.
“Being at the football, 19,000 people is fantastic. It’s going to be the biggest ever attendance at the new Windsor Park because there’s going to be seats on the pitch as well. I know what 19,000 sounds like so 23,000 is going to be even better.”
Frampton won the fringe WBO interim belt in his last fight, a lopsided points victory over former champion Nonito Donaire, and he is ambitious to fight the best in the division again. Victory over Jackson will lead to a bigger fight for Frampton, who is desperate for the chance to face Leo Santa Cruz for a third time having won one and lost the other of their previous contests.
“As long as I win, I still have the Santa Cruz fight. It’s 1-1 and that’s the one I want, more than any other fight,” Frampton said.
“I would love the Santa Cruz fight over here but it doesn’t seem like he wants to play ball. He’s being a bit unrealistic now but he’s the champion now so we might have to do it.”
Frampton feels revitalised after moving to a new promoter, Frank Warren, and trainer, Jamie Moore, in the last year and says retirement is not on the horizon.
“In terms of the performances I’ve had, the Santa Cruz performance when I beat him was the best of my career but after that I think the Donaire one was,” Frampton said.
“It was probably the most disciplined I’ve been, not falling into traps, and I was relaxed.
“I used to be constantly talking about retiring. When I was 28 I was counting down the days to when I could retire at 32. But I’m not talking about it now, I’m not thinking about retirement. I still feel like I have more to give. While I’m still involved in big fights I want to keep doing it.
“I want to keep going. I’m enjoying it so why would you retire when you are still learning and winning and providing security for my family.
“If I perform to my best, I’m knocking him [Jackson] out, as simple as that. I can handle the pressure and I feel a big performance coming on.”