Interim WBO World Featherweight Championship: Carl Frampton (24-1) vs. Nonito Donaire (38-4)
Nolan Howell: In the other top bill in the UK, Carl Frampton takes on Nonito Donaire in a hometown Belfast affair from Northern Ireland with the WBO interim featherweight title on the line. Frampton defeated Horacio Garcia by decision last time out, off the heels of his classic split double-bill with Leo Santa Cruz, while Donaire defeated Ruben Garcia Hernandez after dropping a decision to Jessie Magdaleno.
Donaire is still a heavy puncher, all things considered, even if he is increasingly relying on that power against outgunned competition as he ages out of top form. Against someone who can volume punch with some pop like Frampton and the pressure he will bring accordingly, it seems like Donaire will need to sit back on that power and hope for the best.
While it isn’t impossible, as Frampton was dropped by Garcia last time out and can be drawn into a firefight as in the Santa Cruz outings, counting on that punch landing against someone who is more sound in addition to having the intangible advantages just isn’t a safe bet. Carl Frampton by unanimous decision.
Welterweight Bout: Amir Khan (31-4) vs. Phil Lo Greco (28-3)
Nolan: This is the first time Amir Khan has stepped into the ring in around two years and Phil Lo Greco is the perfect kind of name for that, as he is a feeder to the stars having been lit up by Errol Spence Jr. and surviving to a unanimous decison loss to Shawn Porter somehow. Khan is coming off a KO loss to “Canelo” Alvarez after reeling off five straight in defense of his WBC Silver welterweight title.
Anyway, as far as competitiveness goes, there is really nothing Lo Greco offers that will trouble Khan, barring a complete loss of all boxing knowledge in the last two years. This is more a performance barometer than anything and it will be interesting to see how Khan’s ballyhooed handspeed looks with some ring rust, as well as how hittable he is as he wades into the shallow end here before swimming out to what English boxing is hoping are Kell Brook-infested deep waters.
Khan plays it close to the vest early and opens up a few rounds end and the damage accumulates to give Khan his first stoppage win in quite a while, giving him the highlight reel return. Amir Khan by ninth-round TKO.