Their rivalry may not be bitter but it is spectacular. In a glorious 2016 Carl Frampton unified the super-bantamweight division against Scott Quigg and then rose to featherweight to dethrone Leo Santa Cruz in a fine performance in New York. This year Frampton did not scale those heights again, losing a rematch and the WBA featherweight title to Santa Cruz in Las Vegas. But it sets up a decisive third encounter, if the relevant parties can agree a deal.
2. Oscar Valdez
The WBO champion has an exciting high octane style and his approach would blend with Carl’s for a thrilling fight. Valdez gets caught but then so too did Frampton in his last fight. This bout would almost guarantee excitement.
3. Lee Selby
The IBF featherweight champion has not been dazzling recently but he has simply been winning and is a tricky proposition for anyone. He’d surely willingly come to Northern Ireland but has to defend his title in December and then face mandatory challenger Josh Warrington.
4. Scott Quigg
He too has risen to featherweight and changed his training set up, moving to Freddie Roach in California. It seemed like to a degree Quigg underperformed against Frampton when they fought before, and certainly did not take risks or push the pace. He’d like the chance to rectify that should they ever meet again.
5. Gary Russell Jr
Carl Frampton is world class and is a worthy challenger for any of the major belts. It’s hard to imagine Russell Jr leaving America and, with the atmosphere Frampton generates in Belfast it’s a surprise he has fought away from home so often. But if Russell saw flaws in Frampton in his last performance, he might be open to putting his WBC featherweight title on the line against him.