Former two-division world titleholder Carl Frampton has an opponent for his ring return.
The former featherweight and junior featherweight titlist will take on Mexico’s Horacio Garcia on Nov. 18 at the SSE Arena Belfast in Frampton’s hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, promoter Frank Warren announced Wednesday.
Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) and Garcia (33-3-1, 24 KOs) will meet in a 10-round featherweight bout.
The fight will be Frampton’s first since losing his featherweight world title by majority decision in a rematch with Leo Santa Cruz in an all-action battle on Jan. 28 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It will also be Frampton’s first fight since radically altering the team around him.
Frampton was due to return on July 29 in Belfast against Mexico’s Andres Gutierrez. Frampton failed to make weight the day before the fight, but it was still going to go on as planned until Gutierrez, hours later, fell in the shower. He broke his nose, lost two teeth and cut his chin, forcing the fight to be called off. Then Frampton cut ties with longtime manager Barry McGuigan, Cyclone Promotions and trainer Shane McGuigan (Barry’s son), and signed with Warren and manager Matthew Macklin and hired trainer Jamie Moore.
“This is a fight that really excites me,” Frampton said. “Garcia will definitely come and have a go. He’s a typical Mexican warrior. He’s tough and he’s game and he’ll try and put it on me in front of my home crowd. He has never been stopped in his career and has only lost to world-class opposition, excluding the loss against [journeyman Diuhl] Olguin. It will be good to get a fight in against a live opponent before I get one of the big boys in the new year. This fight has been a long time coming and it’s good to be back out in Belfast.”
Garcia (33-3-1, 24 KOs), 27, lost an eight-round decision to Olguin in July but avenged the defeat in his next fight by fourth-round knockout on Sept. 15. Olguin’s other two defeats came by 10-round decision, to former bantamweight and featherweight world titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa in 2015 and featherweight contender Joseph Diaz in December.
The fight will be Frampton’s first in front of hometown crowd since he knocked out Chris Avalos in the fifth round of a junior featherweight title defense in 2015.
It will also be Frampton’s first scheduled 10-round fight since 2011. All of his fights since were scheduled for 12 rounds.
“I asked for a 10-round fight,” Frampton said. “I would have been happy to be doing 12 rounds but speaking to my team after the bad year I’ve had and the long layoff they thought it was only fair to come back with a 10-rounder before we target the big names.”
There’s a chance that with a victory Frampton, 30, could challenge featherweight world titleholder Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) next year. It’s a fight Valdez and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said recently they are interested in making, and Macklin has also said it’s possible. But first up is Garcia and chance for Frampton to get back on track.
“He is a fighting man and asked for a tough opponent on his big return,” Warren said of Frampton. “Garcia holds a top record and will provide a test for him on Nov. 18. By the time the fight comes around, Carl will have been out of the ring for over 10 months. He has a new trainer, management team and promoter. It is a lot for a fighter to have to deal with but I am expecting to see him back at his best next month.
“Once he has got a good fight under his belt we will push on to one of the big boys in the new year and then [a fight at national soccer stadium] Windsor Park next summer, which is where we want to be with him, in a massive fight.”