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Expectation rising ahead of Frampton's home bout

Nick Parkinson
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Carl Frampton is the biggest boxing star in Northern Ireland since Barry McGuigan in the mid-1980s, but he insists he is feeling no pressure ahead of Saturday's world title fight.

A sell-out crowd of 16,000 will cheer on the unbeaten 27-year-old against Spain's Kiko Martinez at a purpose built stadium in the Titanic Quarter of his home city, Belfast.

Frampton has already beaten Martinez, stopping him in nine rounds for the European title 18 months ago, and admits his fans are expecting another knockout performance to win Martinez's IBF world super-bantamweight title.

Inside Boxing

Carl Frampton is buzzing © Getty Images
  • Former world champion and now promoter Barry McGuigan tells Nick Parkinson why Carl Frampton is ready to take on the world - starting with this Saturday's world title fight against Kiko Martinez in Belfast.
  • Click here to read more

But Frampton says he is immune to the expectation ahead of walking out in front of Northern Ireland's biggest-ever boxing crowd.

"People in Belfast people are expecting me to knock him out," Frampton told ESPN. "It's not going to be as easy as that and I'm not expecting to do that necessarily.

"There's more pressure on me for this fight but there's been pressure on me my whole career. I feel I perform better under pressure anyway, even when there's a crowd in the gym for sparring.

"The expectations won't get to me because I just won't allow it to. I can do whatever. I can absolutely box the ears of this guy if I want to, or I can stand and have a fight with him, and hurt him, and knock him out again.

"I've got the power to stop any super-bantamweight in the world, but if the knockout doesn't come I will be ready to do 12 rounds as well."

Like his promoter McGuigan, who reigned as WBA world featherweight champion from 1985 to 1986, Frampton has been a uniting figure in Northern Ireland.

McGuigan is originally from Clones, close to the border in the Republic of Ireland, and became a hero for both Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland during the Troubles in the eighties.

Frampton is aiming to follow in McGuigan's footsteps to global glory this weekend and, like he did during his career, is happy to have fans from both communities too.

"Growing up in Belfast I saw a lot of trouble and a lot of fighting at the back end of the Troubles," Frampton told ESPN. "I saw a few things I probably shouldn't have seen but boxing helped me stay away from the trouble. From a young age I mixed with guys from the other side.

"The support Barry had was incredible, from both sides of the community. There was a saying back then, leave the fighting to McGuigan, and you hear stories that when he fought trouble on the streets stopped for a couple hours, and then went on after the fight.

"Barry brought people together and I get support from both sides. Being a Protestant boy from a loyalist community, it's great to have support from nearby Catholic communities.

Carl Frampton looks up to promoter Barry McGuigan © Getty Images
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