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Carl Frampton hoping to end a difficult year on a high

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Can Frampton leave his mark on the featherweight division? (2:07)

Steve Bunce looks ahead to Carl Frampton's fight with Horacio Garcia, and discusses whether the he is the at the very top of the 'best division' in boxing. (2:07)

Carl Frampton is hoping for a much-needed lift when he fights in his home city of Belfast for the first time since 2015 after a year that has seen him lose his WBA world featherweight title, miss out on fighting at less than a day's notice and then split from long-term mentor and promoter Barry McGuigan.

Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) feels he has a renewed purpose under new trainer Jamie Moore and in another change has radically reduced the amount of sparring in training ahead of his featherweight bout against Mexican fighter Horacio Garcia (33-3-1, 24 KOs).

"Everything has changed," Frampton, 30, said about his training and preparation compared to what it was like with Shane McGuigan.

"I feel like that was the right decision for me at the time to move on with my career and now it's turning out that it is because I'm absolutely enjoying boxing.

"I just don't have as many niggles. I used to spar a lot, sometimes over 200 rounds per camp, and I just felt like it was a lot.

"I did enjoy sparring but you're still taking a lot of punishment and a lot of times I was having problems with, almost like whiplash, where you're knocked about for 220 rounds.

"I was having these niggles up around my neck, my shoulders, my back.

"We've reduced the amount of sparring and made it quality rather than quantity and it seems to be working, because I've done less than half the number of rounds I would normally spar but when I did my last 10 rounds I was flying, as fit as I've ever been.

However, Frampton denied that concerns over suffering from brain injuries in later life was the reason behind him halving his sparring sessions.

"People have made out that I've dropped the number of rounds I've been sparring to avoid problems after boxing but if you woke up as a boxer worrying about taking a punch to the head in sparring then you're in the wrong game. That's not something I'm worried about.

"But I did feel it was an excessive amount and there's no need to do it.

"Of course, I don't want to be walking around punch drunk and you can see that happening to fighters when they go on too long.

"Obviously I don't want that to happen to me but that's not the main reason, the main reason to reduce the rounds was to restrict the injuries so I could perform better."

As a result of his new regime, Frampton feels fresher ahead of his first fight with promoter Frank Warren.

"I'm flying," said Frampton.

"No injuries, no niggles, I've just done my last hard punching session and I'm feeling good, sharp, I'm excited.

"I genuinely feel rejuvenated. I know people are expecting me to say that but I genuinely feel that way. I've had a complete overhaul of everything."