BELFAST star and former world champion Carl Frampton could be starting the final phase of his career when he boxes Andres Gutierrez on July 29 at the Odyssey Arena.

At just 30 years old, Frampton is a young man, but in boxing terms he can see retirement on a not-too-distant horizon. He is turning his attention to his final fighting years and how he will be remembered. His achievements are remarkable, a unified super-bantamweight champion, he won his first world crown in a purpose built outdoor stadium in his hometown and beat great rival Scott Quigg in Manchester. He became a two-weight titlist after beating Leo Santa Cruz on a thrilling night in New York and was the 2016 Fighter of the Year. But after losing their rematch in Las Vegas in January, Carl has more to give.

However the countdown to the end is beginning. “This fight coming up, one more before the end of the year, if I get three in next year, that could be it. If you got the Santa Cruz fight, imagine finishing on a high, going and beating Santa Cruz in the trilogy. Drop the mic kind of fight and I’m off. Who knows? Who knows how it’ll pan out,” he told Boxing News. “It’s getting harder. I enjoy the big nights and I enjoy fight week in the build up. I don’t think I’ve ever really enjoyed training. I do it because I’m good at it. And it is getting harder. I’m looking forward to the day when I can retire. Until that comes I’m going to give it my all. And it’s probably a couple of years. Two years. In the grand scheme of things over a lifetime, to be happily retired, maybe 32, 33, hopefully have a little bit of dough in the bank, it’s not bad.

“I’d rather be doing this than working nine to five in an office…”

He suffered the first loss of his professional career this year, in fact his first defeat since a distant 3-2 amateur loss to a Russian at a tournament in the Czech Republic in 2009. It hurt him. But he has taken in the experience and now plans to recover his form against Gutierrez next.

“I was in Vegas, my kids weren’t there, when I got home and saw my kids, you put things into perspective. Boxing isn’t my life. My two kids and my wife are. Boxing is a very important part of it but there are a lot more important things than boxing. I feel like there’s still more to come but in a way I feel like I’ve overachieved too. I dreamed of becoming a world champion when I turned professional. I’ve done that. That was success. But to unify the division and to win the world title against a great fighter like Santa Cruz in a second weight division, I never thought I would have done that at the start of my career. I’ve got more to give in this weight division and potentially move up to super-featherweight,” he said. “At some point I’d like to tackle super-featherweight.”

But he added, “I don’t want to disrespect Gutierrez, it’s a tough fight. He’s the only one I’m thinking of at the minute realistically.

“For him it puts him on the world stage, it’s a big chance for him. But we’ll see. Even if he puts in a good performance, it raises the bar for him.

“There’s a lot at stake for both of us. Probably more so for me because if I slip up, it’s hard to say where we go from there.”

Carl Frampton

A second defeat would be a disaster. “I haven’t a clue [what he’d do if he lost] and I’m not even thinking about it. I’m really confident for this fight but I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ve trained hard, I’ve done the graft in the gym and I’ll be ready on the night,” he promised.

For a big interview and full fight preview don’t miss next week’s issue of Boxing News magazine