Carl Frampton: Former featherweight champion would switch weight for a world title shot

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I can be world champion again - Carl Frampton

Carl Frampton says he would consider a return to the super-bantamweight ranks in his pursuit of another world title.

The Belfast boxer, 31, is confident he can still compete at the top level, having considered retiring after losing to Josh Warrington.

His featherweight options include a third fight against Leo Santa Cruz or a challenge to WBO champion Oscar Valdez - but he could move divisions.

But Frampton said that he would need to find the right opponent first.

He set up the Warrington fight after beating Luke Jackson in Belfast in August, having defeated Nonito Donaire in April to win the WBO interim featherweight belt.

"Look at the size difference between me and Warrington on the night," said Frampton.

"Warrington was a much bigger man than me so moving up a weight... I believed I could have beaten Warrington and then maybe moved up but I was outdone by a bigger man on the night. So it would need to be the right champion if I was going to move up and not one of the bigger guys.

"Potentially moving down [in weight] is another option that we've spoken about.

"Against Donaire, I made featherweight pretty comfortably and I remember saying before the Jackson fight that if something came up at super-bantamweight I'd be willing to try it out so that's an option."

A big fight or the promise of one

A high-profile fight at featherweight remains the most likely target for the former two-weight world champion.

US promoter Bob Arum has signalled a potential match against WBO title-holder Valdez later this year while a third contest against WBA super featherweight champion Santa Cruz would also be an attractive proposition.

Frampton has been in conversation with MTK, his management company, as well as trainer Jamie Moore and promoter Frank Warren, to discuss his options.

"It's still to be decided really," he said.

"I've told them my position. I want to get a big fight or a fight to get me back and then the promise of a big fight straight after it so that's where I want to be.

"I don't want to have to go through three fights to get a world title shot again and everyone knows that.

Carl Frampton and Josh Warrington
Carl Frampton (left) lost on a unanimous points decision to Josh Warrington in December

"I believe that my team and Frank can deliver a big opponent for me. We'll see what happens and hopefully we'll know a bit more in the next few weeks."

Any return to the ring will be delayed until after Frampton's legal dispute with former manager Barry McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions has been settled, with the case set to be heard at the High Court in Belfast in May.

It means that a summer return to the ring now looks the most likely option for Frampton, who accepts he may seem vulnerable to his potential opponents following the second defeat of his career.

He said: "People may have seen weaknesses from the Warrington fight but that wasn't really me. I know I can perform better than that and I'm disappointed. My performance that night still annoys me.

"Josh Warrington won fair and square but I believe I can win a world title. I wouldn't be thinking about continuing to fight if I didn't believe that.

"I want to be a world champion again and there's positive vibes coming out of certain camps, Leo Santa Cruz and Oscar Valdez in particular."

'I told my kids I was done'

Immediately after his defeat by Warrington, Frampton thought he was going to retire.

The Northern Irishman said: "As soon as the final bell went, I knew I had lost. At that point in my head, I felt like I was a retired fighter and I didn't want to fight any more.

"I was annoyed and upset. I spoke to my family and I think I even told my kids that I was going to stay at home from now on but things have changed and I just realised that I wouldn't like to finish and go out on a fight like that."

His conversations with Warren and Moore, as well has his family and friends, helped to convince him that he can still return to the heights that he scaled in the past.

"People can have bad nights but it's a bit different in boxing because it's now like football where you can put it right the following week," added Frampton.

"I'm still a big name in the division. You look at Amir Khan, who's been knocked out in his career and he's just walked into a big fight with Terence Crawford. I have big fights there for me, winnable fights, and I genuinely believe I can be a world champion again."