A Jackal is a wild dog. They look a little differently, and they sound a little differently than the dogs we know, but that’s what they are. They’re opportunists who kill when they must and steal when they can. They work as a team. They are the the kind of creature that we hate to admire.
Belfast featherweight Carl Frampton calls himself “The Jackal.” For every negative word we have for that animal, Frampton (23-0, 14KO) extolls a dozen that are complimentary. He’s resilient, clever, skillful, careful, bold, and intelligent.
Frampton is TQBR’s Fighter of the Year. Not because he’s perfect, not because he’s great, but because in the last twelve months he’s raised himself above his peers and above what we thought of him. He solidified his hold on junior featherweight (against Scott Quigg) then took on one of the best featherweights in the world (Leo Santa Cruz) and won a clear, but close decision.
Frampton could rightfully be criticized for the Quigg fight. It was pretty boring. But he gutted out a win in an important fight. That he followed that by facing (and beating) the Cucuy of his northerly division in his very next fight is impressive. No one came out of that fight with any complaints. Frampton and Santa Cruz engaged in a tactical, but aggressive battle in which both men were raised.
In front of a huge audience, Frampton and Santa Cruz gave fans a thrilling fight. No one who witnessed it live was disappointed in the action. The fact that we may be treated to rematch at some point was just icing on the cake.
The Fighter Of The Year has to do something special. It’s not enough to separate yourself from your peers. You must separate yourself from your previous work. You have to do something memorable.
Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko both made statements against excellent opponents this year, but neither elevated their own game enough to surpass Frampton.
That’s why Carl “The Jackal” Frampton is TQBR’s fighter of the year. He did things we didn’t know he could do against the best opponents he’s ever faced, and he did them with aplomb.
Before: Knockout of the Year candidates, Knockout of the Year winner, Round of the Year candidates, Round of the Year winner, Fight of the Year candidates, Fighter of the Year candidates, Fight of the Year winner.
(BROOKLYN, New York —Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico [gold trunks] fights Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland [blue trunks] during their featherweight bout at Barclays Center on July 30; Photo: Anthony Geathers/Getty Images)