Frampton to defend vs. Avalos

Junior featherweight titlist Carl Frampton's first defense will come against mandatory challenger Chris Avalos on Feb. 28 at the Odyssey Arena in Frampton's hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, CWM Cyclone Promotions chief executive Barry McGuigan announced on Thursday.

The fight came together with little issue as McGuigan, the Hall of Fame former featherweight champion, was able to make a deal with Carl Moretti (of Avalos promoter Top Rank) to avoid a purse bid.

The 27-year-old Frampton (19-0, 13 KOs) won the 122-pound title on Sept. 6 by unanimous decision against Kiko Martinez in a rematch of Frampton's ninth-round knockout to win the European title, also at the Odyssey Arena. The world title fight was also in Belfast, where Frampton is a major star.

The rematch with Martinez drew a sold-out crowd of 16,000 to an outdoor arena temporarily constructed to hold the fight in the Titanic Quarter.

"I'm over the moon to be defending my title at home in Belfast," Frampton said. "The crowd and atmosphere at my last fight was unbelievable and I know it will be more of the same on Feb. 28. Avalos is a worthy challenger. This is a mandatory defense and Chris is up there with the best in the world, but this is my time, my title and my city. Chris Avalos will not know what's hit him."

Said McGuigan: "I'm delighted that CWM Cyclone have once again delivered a massive world title fight for Carl Frampton at home. This fight has the potential to be spectacular. Chris Avalos is the mandatory challenger. He brings a lot to the table: speed, power and good boxing skills. This is a very tough test for Carl Frampton but he is improving with every fight and I have no doubt that he will win and win in style on Feb. 28."

Avalos (25-2, 19 KOs), 25, of Lancaster, California, was in a mandatory position to challenge either Frampton for his belt or unified titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux, but he and his team elected to make a deal with Frampton because it is a much more lucrative fight.

Avalos, who has won six fights in a row, knocked out Yasutaka Ishimoto in the eighth round in Macau in May to become the mandatory challenger for Frampton's belt.