Carl Frampton stops Chris Avalos to retain super-bantamweight title
Carl Frampton successfully defended his IBF super-bantamweight title with an impressive fifth-round stoppage of American Chris Avalos in Belfast.
The Northern Irishman, 28, got the better of some rugged exchanges in the early rounds, although the challenger also landed with some hurtful shots.
However, Frampton rocked Avalos with a right hand at the start of the fifth and the referee called it off shortly after with the challenger unable to defend himself.
Frampton would like his next fight to be against Englishman Scott Quigg, who owns a portion of the WBA title.
His victory over Avalos was broadcast by terrestrial channel ITV, while Quigg currently fights on satellite channel Sky Sports, although on a fight-by-fight basis.
As such, Frampton's manager Barry McGuigan is confident Quigg can be persuaded to fight on ITV. In addition, McGuigan said he was happy for Frampton to fight Quigg in England, citing London's O2 Arena or the Manchester Arena as possible venues.
The one stumbling block could be Quigg's promoter Eddie Hearn, who would prefer Frampton-Quigg to be a pay-per-view event, which could only happen on Sky.
"Scott and I would both love a summer showdown," said Frampton.
"Scott needs to remember who's the real world champion. It's a massive fight and it should happen. I will leave Belfast if I have to."
The WBA's so-called 'super' champion at 122lb is gifted Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux, who claims he is open to a fight against Frampton.
Leo Santa Cruz, the WBC champion, is also an option, especially if Frampton chooses to fight in the United States, where television networks HBO and Showtime are said to be interested in showcasing the Ulsterman.
They are sure to be even more interested after Frampton's impressive display against Avalos, which was the champion's first outing on terrestrial television and will have won him a new audience beyond his native Belfast.
Frampton won the IBF title with a stirring points victory over Spain's Kiko Martinez in a temporary outdoor arena in Belfast last September.
And Frampton came out full of similar intent at a rocking Odyssey Arena, which was already at fever pitch before the two men entered the ring.
While Frampton shaded the first round, Avalos, who was twice warned for hitting on the break, served notice that he had not travelled from his native California purely for a pay-day.
Avalos appeared to injure his right shoulder in round two and came under attack from Frampton, entirely legitimately, while his back was turned.
However, the 25-year-old Californian made it through to the bell, having already got one or two right hands through the champion's sometimes porous defences.
The third round looked like it might be a turning point, Frampton landing with a barrage of lethal left hooks and Avalos looking more and more ragged as he came ploughing forward.
However, the challenger came out firing in round four, finding Frampton's chin with a couple of juddering right hands.
But a sweet right cross from the champion rocked Avalos early in the fifth, after which he never really recovered. Avalos battled on for a minute or so but referee Howard Foster finally stepped in with the challenger tottering on the ropes, one minute and 33 seconds into the round.
Frampton is now undefeated in 20 professional fights, with 14 knockouts, while Avalos falls to 25 wins from 28 pro fights.