Carl Frampton made a successful ring return at Belfast’s SSE Odyssey Arena on Saturday night, defeating Mexico’s Horacio Garcia on a unanimous points decision.
Fighting in his hometown for the first time in two-and-a-half years, ‘The Jackal’ was headlining a massive ‘Frampton Reborn’ fight card live on BT Sport and BoxNation.
Prior to the two-weight world champion’s bout, Paddy Barnes claimed the vacant WBO inter-continental flyweight title with a sixth-round stoppage win over Nicaraguan Eliecer Quezada while Jamie Conlan suffered a devastating loss in his IBF world super-flyweight title challenge against Jerwin Ancajas.
On a big occasion for Frampton, the headline featherweight fight also marked his comeback following his first professional loss to Leo Santa Cruz last January.
Now promoted by Frank Warren, with MTK Global in his corner as advisors, ‘The Jackal’ was in fine form and at times looked back to his best in the early rounds against Garcia
The 30-year-old looked eager to make a big impression in front of his hometown crowd and boxed well before the game Garcia began to take the fight to Frampton.
Cut on his right eye by the fifth round, ‘The Jackal’ certainly knew he was in a competitive clash.
Mexican Garcia – who had compatriot superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez – supporting him from ringside managed to put Frampton down in the seventh round. It had appeared that the home fighter may have slipped, but referee Victor Loughlin called a knockdown with Frampton rising to his feet at the count of eight.
The former WBA world featherweight champion looked slightly rusty at times in the middle to late rounds, although he also opted to trade blows with Garcia when he may have been wiser to box more sensibly.
Garcia had never been stopped in 37 fights and he proved to be a challenging opponent for Frampton, who welcomed the opportunity to shake off his 10 months of ring rust following his loss to Santa Cruz.
“Fair play to the kid. Matt Macklin [his MTK Global advisor] said I’ve got a target on my back – I’m like a world-title fight for these guys,” said Frampton.
“I’m ready for whatever comes next. If a world title came next, I’m ready for it. Who knows what’s going to happen? A few lads like Lee Selby and Josh Warrington are tied up, but I’m ready for whenever a title fight comes.
“I got hit a bit too much tonight. I expect more of myself, but I like to please the fans too. It helped me shake the rust and I’ll be better for it.
“That was the noisiest I’ve ever heard the [Odyssey] arena and it was electric. I had goosebumps when I heard the crowd,” added Frampton, who is likely to be back in the ring next spring.