Fighter of the Year 2016: Carl Frampton
Carl Frampton had a decent, but not noteworthy 2015 as it appeared the super bantamweight was either not what he was cracked up to be or outgrew the 122 lbs. weight class. In 2016, we as fight fans learned that it was the later as Frampton put together two stellar showings to win our honors for Fighter of the Year.
Frampton, whom struggled in his American debut against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. (who sadly passed away this year), was being viewed by pundits for the most part as a fighter who was marketed and built well by Eddie Hearn and less so a transcendent star. In the fight against Gonzalez, Frampton was sent to the canvas as well as appeared to be more of a brawler than the cerebral fighter he was being billed as. This would change in 2016.
Though Frampton only had two fights he made them count as both were big fights in their own right. Frampton’s first was against rival Scott Quigg, a fellow undefeated UK fighter who had been calling him out for sometime. You can watch one of the pre-fight hype shows below to get a sense of how big the fight was.
Frampton outclassed Quigg, who looked confused by the movement and trickery of Frampton, who despite winning the fight handily was awarded a bizarre split decision. Even more strange was the U.S. boxing writers who labeled the fight a “can’t miss” affair who flipped to shaming Quigg for “…starting late” in the fight, rather than crediting Frampton for frustrating him. It was the perfect storm to discredit a major win for a raising star.
Frampton would wait until the summer to return as he would come across the pond and fight featherweight WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz in Brooklyn, New York with most once again labeling Frampton as a slight underdog as Santa Cruz was coming off his biggest win of his career against Abner Mares, the year prior. Once again, Frampton played a spoiler as he was in a more competitive affair, but not by much as he soundly outpointed Santa Cruz away from the United Kingdom. Frampton, appeared once again too deceptive for Santa Cruz, who had used aggression in prior fights to overwhelm foes (it is important to note that Santa Cruz’s father had been diagnosed with cancer prior to the bout).
So I did the tedious and boring explanation of why Frampton’s year was special now let me be myself and just talk from the heart. Frampton moved up in weight after telling people he was too big for super bantamweight and it worked, Frampton fought the best opposite he could and won dominantly. Frampton even gave up home field advantage when he is the bigger ticket seller then Leo Santa Cruz just for the fight.
Frampton showed class in his skill and fighting ability as well as fit my criteria for being fighter of the year, which is being dominate in a bout and fighting or defending a world title with in the year. In a year void of one transcendent choice, Carl Frampton, stands out to me the most deserving and is ITRBoxing.com’s choice for Fighter of the Year.