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Disappointment in Tigers Bay as Carl Frampton comes up short

By Gareth Fullerton

Carl Frampton may have relinquished his WBA featherweight world title in the small hours of Sunday morning, but for young super-fan Morgan Stewart he remains the undisputed people's champion.

As Sunday's dawn rose on the debris of a disappointing night for Frampton in Las Vegas, the Jackal Army were coming to terms with the 29-year-old's first defeat as a professional.

The Tigers Bay hero had won the WBA featherweight crown with a career-defining display against Leo Santa Cruz last summer in New York.

But in the early hours of Sunday morning it was the Mexican who exacted revenge to reclaim the belt at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Following his defeat, Frampton apologised to the 5,000 travelling fans who made the journey to Sin City to watch him in action, and to the thousands of supporters who were glued to their television screens back home in Northern Ireland.

But for 11-year-old fan Morgan, the homegrown hero has nothing to apologise for.

"I am disappointed, but I am still really proud of what Carl has achieved," Morgan said.

"I have been a fan since I was seven, and Carl is a big hero of mine and other people round here. His sister lives next door and his mummy and daddy used to live up the street."

Morgan showed her support at the weekend by displaying a special 'Jackal' banner on the front of her house on North Queen Street in Tigers Bay.

You will also find wall-to-wall memorabilia in the Stewart family's kitchen, from photographs of Carl to a pair of signed gloves encased in a glass frame.

The proud fan has been to watch her idol in action twice - when he won his IBF super-bantamweight world title against Kiko Martinez at the Titanic Quarter in September 2014, and when he unified the division against domestic rival Scott Quigg in Manchester in February last year.

Morgan now hopes Frampton returns to Belfast in the summer to fight Santa Cruz in the trilogy fight.

"I would love to see him fight in Belfast again," she said.

"I would go and watch him fight in Belfast this summer if that happens. I think that would be fantastic."

Morgan's mother Jean, who watched the fight with her daughter, admits she felt heartbroken for Frampton after his defeat.

"I was a wee bit heartbroken for him when I saw his face on TV," she said.

"Carl has always been the talk of Tigers Bay. The kids all love him. He is a gentleman and has always gone out of his way to sign autographs for the kids.

"He is just like me and you, but he is also a superstar."

Morgan's grandfather William believes Frampton should be proud of his achievements.

"Carl didn't let anyone down. He apologised to the fans, but he has nothing to apologise for," William said.

"He has done so much for Belfast, and for both sides of the community. That's quite rare."

Another fan who lives in the shadow of Tigers Bay is Rebecca Coulter.

"I have lived here since I was a child and I am friends with Carl's sister, Valerie. She is out in Vegas for the fight," Rebecca said.

"Carl has always been someone to look up to around here. I think he is so disappointed, but he doesn't have to say sorry. Carl is a role model around here."

York Road man Brian Moore would love to see Frampton and Santa Cruz lock horns again, but doesn't believe a deciding fight will come to Northern Ireland.

"Money will talk and it will be held in Las Vegas or somewhere else in the United States," he said.

"I have met Carl a good few times. He is a Crusaders fan. But fair play to Santa Cruz; he fought a great fight and deserved to win."

Kevin Martin believes a home crowd would give Frampton an edge over Santa Cruz.

"The home support would give him a massive lift," he said.

"I used to taxi Carl a few times. He is a very sensible lad. His parents have done a great job on him, and he is a great role model for the rest of the kids here.

"He is a hero around here and he deserves everything he gets."

Young fan DJ Holmes was philosophical in his assessment of Saturday night's fight.

"You win some, you lose some. Carl shouldn't be too disappointed," he said.

"He is going to fight again and I think he will be more determined next time. He'll be stronger and fitter.

"Carl is still admired around here. He used to train at Midland Boxing Club and he is loved around these parts."

Geraldine Moore believes Frampton got complacent in the rematch with Santa Cruz .

"I think Carl got a wee bit too cocky," she said.

"I wouldn't be a massive fan, but because Carl is from here, I like to support him.

"I remember him from when he was a boy. He has done fantastically well to get to where he is at. Hopefully we get the third fight in Belfast now."

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