What's next for Carl Frampton after victory over Horacio Garcia?

Carl Frampton secured a unanimous decision victory over Horacio Garcia in Belfast. Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Carl Frampton regards his unanimous points win over Horacio Garcia in a ten-round non-title bout as "mediocre".

So where does the Northern Ireland featherweight go next after beating Mexico's Garcia in his home city of Belfast on Saturday?

Work on stamina

Two-weight world champion Frampton (24-1, 14 KOs) looked excellent early on, landing accurately and quickly to bamboozle Garcia. But the early effervescence faded and he began to plant his feet, or sit on the ropes, which encouraged Garcia (33-4-1, 24 KOs) to unload at will.

In the seventh round, the Northern Irishman was even given a count, although most observers thought he slipped. He was drawn into a fight and finished with cuts around his eyes and a swollen face.

"It was a mediocre performance, I expect more of myself," Frampton, 30, said. "I didn't expect to be coming away with a face like this. I got hit a bit too much."

Frampton still did enough to ensure there was no doubt over the decision -- a margin of three rounds seemed fair -- and was throwing the better punches in the final round. He showed he is still a technically supreme boxer but looked tired in the latter rounds.

Improving stamina for his next fight, or for a world title shot later in 2018, will be a priority under new trainer Jamie Moore.

Back out in March or April

A non-title bout in March or April, to sharpen up for a summer world title shot, is perhaps the most likely plan going forward.

Promoter Frank Warren wants Frampton to box again early next year, which may push back the original plan of a big fight at Windsor Park -- home of Northern Ireland's national soccer team -- in late May or early June.

Due to the marching season, holding a major event in July in Belfast is problematic and Warren could wait until early September for the big fight. When Frampton won his first world title -- the IBF super-bantamweight belt -- it was staged outdoors at a temporary stadium in Belfast's dockside area on a cold night in early September 2014.

"If I have to sit on the sidelines in between, and get one of the world champions to Windsor in the summer, then so be it," said Frampton.

World title shot unlikely for early 2018

Frampton will have to wait for fight against Leo Santa Cruz, the Mexican who he beat on points last year but then lost the WBA world title to on points in January, and Welshman Lee Selby.

Selby (25-1, 9 KOs) defends his IBF belt against Mexico's Eduardo Ramirez on Dec. 9 and, assuming he wins, will face England's Josh Warrington (26-0, 6 KOs) next. Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) is due to face fellow Mexican Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) in a rematch.

Selby's next fight is also being staged by Warren and the Welshman has said he is willing to fight Frampton in Belfast this summer. Getting Santa Cruz to agree to fight outdoors in Belfast, though, will be harder to achieve.

WBO titleholder Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) made a third defence on Sep. 22 and is due to fight again in February or March. If a fight with Frampton is going to be made, it will be later in 2018.

WBC belt is an option for 2018

Frampton is No. 2 in the WBC rankings -- behind American Joseph Diaz (25-0, 13 KOs) -- which is higher than his status with the other three governing bodies.

WBC titleholder Gary Russell Jr (28-1, 17 KOs) has not fought since May 20 and the American has yet to announce any future plans.

Last July, Frampton was due to fight in an eliminator for Russell's belt but missed the weight and then his opponent, Mexico's Andres Gutierrez, slipped over in the shower and the fight was cancelled at less than a day's notice.

"I'm not sure what is happening with the WBC title, Gary Russell is the champion but I'm hearing whispers that he could be moving up," said Frampton.