Carl Frampton overpowers Alejandro Gonzalez in El Paso

Massive scare for Belfast fighter who just manages to steady the ship in final rounds

Carl Frampton was given a massive scare on his US debut before he responded to overpower Mexican upstart Alejandro Gonzalez Jr in West Texas.

Being beamed into every American home on network television, the IBF world champion was desperate to make his mark on the Stateside audience and show them what they had been missing.

Instead the world looked to be crashing down on the Belfast fighter when he was sent to the floor twice in the opening three minutes. It was the mother of wake-up calls and while Frampton responded to dominate Gonzalez Jr with trademark strong lefts and solid combinations, this was certainly not a night that went to plan in El Paso.

Frampton and his support team of coach Shane McGuigan and manager Barry had all expected Gonzalez Jr to be cagey, evasive, defensive.


That couldn’t have looked less accurate in the fight’s first round as Frampton was stunned to be downed twice.

The first came just 40 seconds in as a left hook, which the Gonzalez team had talked up all week, found the mark. Frampton was given a standing count and looked to steady the ship. Instead he soon walked into another, a strong overhand right that had him touching the canvas again.

The Belfast man had never been down in his entire career - professional or amateur. Three points behind after three minutes? This was certainly not part of the game plan. Frampton desperately looked for a groove, going back to his left jab and finding some success in the second but dominance was slow in coming.

The scores were levelled in the third when Gonzalez was deducted a point by referee Mark Colo-oy for a particularly low blow. Frampton’s strong left was finding much more consistency now. He complained about another low shot towards the end of the round but there was no action this time.

With the fight being beamed into every home in America, Frampton was desperate to impress. He finally got Gonzalez on the ropes in the fourth and unleashed a fresh flurry.

There was a lull in the fifth with Frampton landing marginally more but he ramped things up significantly in the sixth. A strong right hook sent Gonzalez spinning backwards. His first-round salvo seemed a distant memory now.

La Cobrita’s face was rapidly reddening. The only one coming forward, Frampton was now impressing the masses. A level eighth round was highlighted by more squabbles over low blows from both men and the crowd turned again on the visitor from Belfast.

Frampton’s fitness was being tested and the 22-year-old Mexican found some joy in the ninth before Frampton responded in the tenth.

Things threatened to end as they began - messily. There were more low blow complaints before the champion finished strongly with the crowd eventually chanting his name and the judges unanimously on his side (115-109, 116-108, 116-108).

Barry McGuigan predicted that this milestone would be the first step in a career-defining year for his protégé with the next intention to finally agree terms on a long-awaited showdown with Scott Quigg before returning Stateside for a St Patrick's Day spectacular and a unification against one of the divisions big guns next summer.

After the biggest scare of his career, those plans may have to be redrawn. As far as America is concerned, the Jackal has landed. But it was far from smooth.