In the immediate aftermath of Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton’s impressive victory in his featherweight debut, we take a look at who he could face next.  To clarify, the Pros are a mixture of why the fight would be good and how easily it could be made. The Cons being why it wouldn’t be a popular choice and any potential matchmaking difficulties.

Leo Santa Cruz – The now former WBA Featherweight champion of the world naturally expressed a desire for a rematch and the chance to regain his title.

Pros – Their styles meshed really well in the ring which led to this weekend’s contest being highly entertaining. LSC also noted he would be willing to travel to Belfast to face Frampton and the two camps appear to be happy working together.

Cons – While it was a close fight, most observers saw Frampton winning clearly. Santa Cruz will have to adapt to get any joy in the rematch and hasn’t shown anything in his career that indicates he could do this successfully.

Scott Quigg – Another victim of the Jackal’s boxing pedigree who would love the opportunity to right his own personal wrong.

Pros- When they clashed in February of this year, it was the biggest boxing match in Britain since Froch-Groves II. Sky have their critics but the build would be entertaining as McGuigan, Hearn and Gallagher locked verbal horns again.

Cons – Let’s be honest, it wasn’t the most action packed boxing match ever. Quigg gets a lot of stick for this for starting so slowly, but Frampton needs to take some credit. He didn’t have to do a lot, however he did what he had to very well.  Add the difference in weight now and this looks unlikely for the immediate future. Quigg would seemingly have to move up which he has shown no inclination to as yet. The sour business relationship between the camps also makes the chances of Frampton-Quigg II very remote indeed.

Gary Russell Jr – The American has only lost to the uber talented Vasyl Lomachenko and has since rebounded to win the WBC strap at 126 lbs.

Pros – Managed by Al Haymon, like LSC, so Cyclone Promotions could feasibly get the deal done. He is a name in America so would also give Frampton the chance to continue to build his reputation stateside in what could prove a highly entertaining unification match.

Cons – Not many on the surface. Russell was in attendance on Sunday morning (UK time) and has shown an interest in unifying the titles. It is unknown just how big a draw Russell is so Team Frampton will have to carefully weigh up the risk versus reward.

Lee Selby – See above only changing UK and US reputations. Selby has fought on PBC shows and is very highly respected on these shores.

Pros – The IBF champion would also dangle the unification carrot in front of the Belfast Boy. Even to English fans, this clash of Northern Irish and Welsh fighters would prove intriguing and likely divide opinion. Both boxers respect each other and seem willing to make it happen.

Cons – Selby has fought regularly on Matchroom shows and as of today he is still listed as their boxer. From the outside, he has a relatively complex managerial set up with longtime manager Chris Sanigar still a very important part of the team and Al Haymon recently getting involved. Although Frampton appears to have a similar arrangement with the McGuigans so this might not be as problematic as it could be.

Oscar Valdez – Recently crowned WBO champion deserves a mention. With a record of 20(18)-0 he is probably more of one for the future than a next opponent.
Pros – He would be Frampton’s third undefeated world champion opponent in a row and as his record suggests he brings the action. The Mexican is the youngest on this list at 25, and already has victories over Evgeny Gradovich and Chris Avalos on his ledger.
Cons – Outside of hardcore boxing fans, his name doesn’t carry nearly enough sway for the risk to be worth the reward. I’d still favour Frampton to beat him but there are bigger, more lucrative options available for his next defence.

Guillermo Rigondeaux – The elephant in the room. The boogeyman. He Who Must Not Be Named.

Pros – Whether at 122 or 126 this has been long muted and would provide the world with a clash between two of the best boxers on the planet. Frampton has expressed his intention to get the ‘biggest’ matches and this certainly falls into this category.

Cons – This was the main motivation for this article and could be a separate piece on its own. The first obstacle is Team Frampton’s view that Rigondeaux isn’t a big money fight.

Now, before Frampton gets it both barrels, he is well within his right to maximise his earnings. He correctly stated that boxing is a short career and he has a young family to think about. Facing any of the others on this list would certainly bring in the money. However, I perhaps naively, don’t see how facing Rigondeaux in Belfast in front of a sell out crowd would earn him significantly less than doing the same against LSC for example.

The only major impact this would have on Frampton’s earning power would be longer term if he had to rebuild following a defeat. Which brings me onto the next point. I think at 126 lbs Frampton would have every chance of beating Rigo, who has been dropped before. I don’t see this taking place at 122 due to Frampton and McGuigans recent words about how hard the weight cut prove recently.

Even if the talented Cuban was willing to make the jump in weight, the fact that Carl didn’t name drop him when giving potential opponents (the other featherweights on this list were mentioned specifically) speaks volumes about their intentions.

Who next for Carl Frampton?
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