Not long at all to go until IBF world champion Carl "The Jackal" Frampton returns to TV screens, when he takes on dangerous super bantamweight challenger Chris Avalos, at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on 28 February. The fight will mark the first time in a number of years that big time boxing will be shown again on terrestrial television, when UK broadcasting giant ITV will be screening proceedings.
There are also ongoing negotiations for the fight to take place live on new channel UTV Ireland. The positive implications for the sport of boxing are considerable, given the degree of exposure the exciting Tiger's Bay pugilist will not only bring to boxing fans, but the casual sports fan who could be tuning in for the first time to watch a very, very special sporting event.
The atmosphere in the Odyssey Arena and Belfast in general during a Frampton fight week, is truly second to none in my opinion. You really have to be there to fully understand and comprehend the passion, love, buzz and affiliation the city has for one of their most famous and accomplished sporting sons.
I've had the privilege of making the trip up from Co.Cork (South Ireland) to Belfast for a number of Frampton fight weeks, and every time has been absolutely worth the country wide commute. Besides the electric crackle that pulsates around the city fight week, Belfast boxing fans are probably the most knowledgeable on the sport I've honestly ever come across.
It is an unbreakable affiliation that Frampton has built with his native fight fans, and is almost reminiscent of Ricky Hatton's legendary relationship with his supporters. This bond coupled with the fact Frampton is arguably as entertaining as any fighter in world boxing with his powerful, ferocious technique, make this latest TV deal struck with ITV, potentially a very special story in the coming years.
Carl Frampton has all the attributes as both a boxer and a sportsman that can make him an international superstar. The fan base, the exciting style, the level headed approach, the ability to articulate and speak well, and of course that sensational knockout power, combined now with a network television broadcaster, is quite simply the equation for sporting success for him and the sport in which he operates in.
There will be little motivation needed for his next outing given the massive platform and opportunity now knocking at his door. This no doubt will also be helped by some bullish and confident remarks from the foe that stands in front of him at the end of the month. Chris Avalos and his team are extremely confident in the job at hand it would seem. This extroverted confidence (whether misplaced or genuine) always makes for a hungry, dangerous man.
Carl and his professional team will know this more than anyone of course and already seem to be in terrific condition for the fight with just a couple of weeks to go.
This fight and event as a whole has the potential to be viewed by millions of viewers both across Ireland and the UK, and surely many onlookers across the globe, such is the magnetism of both the occasion for the sport and of the champion's ability and personality.
I'm a bit of an optimist, always have been. The glass is half full and I'll go out on a limb and say this televised boxing bonanza of a show could represent the start of a very special time for the sport once again in the UK and Ireland. So many people will have the opportunity to watch what could be a special night of action, certainly a very special boxer and story in the making, while once again observing the highest level of one of the most compelling sports there is, live on terrestrial television.
Buckle up, for what could be a very exciting ride for boxing and the Carl Frampton story over the next few years, starting at the end of this month. All systems go for 28 February.