CARL FRAMPTON declared himself “the best featherweight on the planet” and accused Josh Warrington of writing him off as the fighters exchanged words for the final time before their IBF clash in Manchester.
Frampton stirred up Saturday’s all-British contest by claiming Warrington and his camp believed he was “over the hill” after almost two years without a world title.
The Belfast boxer, a two-weight world champion, will attempt to restore his former status when he and Warrington meet over 12 rounds at Manchester Arena this weekend.
The pair spoke at their last press conference in the city centre yesterday afternoon, talking of their mutual respect but clashing over the question of whether Frampton had moved beyond his peak.
The 31-year-old held both the IBF and WBA titles at super-bantamweight and added the WBA featherweight belt to his record with a defining win over Leo Santa Cruz in New York in July 2016 but Santa Cruz dethorned him six months later, inflicting Frampton’s only professional defeat.
Frampton has changed management since then, leaving promoter Barry McGuigan and teaming up with Manchester trainer Jamie Moore, and said he had improved under Moore’s guidance.
When it turns into a dogfight I’ll be prepared for it and that’s when people will see that I’m not over the hill. I don’t know how much he wants it but it’ll be very difficult to want it more than me.Carl Frampton
But he warned Warrington that he was underestimating him ahead of Saturday’s bout, saying: “No matter what Josh and his team say, they think I’m over the hill.
“I’ve seen things in the media which kind of suggest that but when it turns into a dogfight I’ll be prepared for it and that’s when people will see that I’m not over the hill. I don’t know how much he wants it but it’ll be very difficult to want it more than me.
“When I was beating guys like Santa Cruz and (Scott) Quigg I wasn’t really enjoying boxing. I f****** hated it, if I was being honest, but I was still getting big performances.
“Now I look forward to it and I’m putting in maximum effort in training. I feel like I’m better now than I was when I beat Santa Cruz.
“Josh is a very good fighter. This is going to be a tough fight. But I believe that I beat any featherweight in the world on my day. I believe I can beat them all. I’m the best featherweight on the planet.”
Warrington denied suggesting that Frampton’s ability was declining and said he was ready to face “the very best Carl Frampton” in his first defence of the IBF featherweight title he won against Lee Selby in May.
“I’ve never said he was past his best,” Warrington said. “All I said is that you can’t judge his last few performances like the win against Santa Cruz.
“That was when he was at the peak of his career and every fighter has peaks. It’s a long time to hold that level but me and my team are prepared for the very best Carl Frampton. I’d be a mug if I didn’t. I just hope that when my arm gets raised there are no excuses from him.”
Warrington and Selby engaged in a bitter rivalry prior to their fight in May, a dramatic bout which Warrington won on a split decision to become Leeds’ first male world champion.
His relationship with Frampton have been less volatile and Warrington said: “It’s going to be cauldron in terms of noise and two fighters who want it bad. We don’t have to be chucking tables at each other or slagging each other to death.
“Carl says he’s in a good place but I’m in a very good place. It’s about timing as well and it’s my time. I feel I’ll beat anyone in the world now.”