Belfast Telegraph

What a belter! King of the ring Carl Frampton pulls in 2 million television viewers

By Chris Kilpatrick

As boxing corners go, two-million strong takes some beating.

Carl Frampton's awesome title defence drew the biggest local television audience of the weekend, with his supporters gathered in front of TVs throughout Northern Ireland to cheer on their hero.

And his growing band of fans across the Irish Sea also backed him in huge swathes.

At its peak, some 1.9m people across the UK tuned in to watch the Tiger's Bay fighter dispatch American Chris Avalos, with an average of 1.1m for the coverage.

Here, the fight attracted a peak audience of more than 450,000 with two thirds of viewers tuned in to UTV to watch the 28-year-old Jackal in action at a packed Odyssey Arena.

Due to the huge success of the fight in drawing boxing fans, Frampton's manager Barry McGuigan has urged TV bosses to ensure his protégé's next tussle is again free-to-air.

If Frampton gets his way he will be going toe-to-toe with Scott Quigg who is also keen on getting the fight on.

Michael Wilson, managing director of UTV, said the station felt privileged to screen Frampton's title defence.

"At a 76% peak audience share, the Frampton fight was not only the most watched programme at the weekend but the highest audience share for UTV so far in 2015," he said.

"The fight was the first time boxing has been brought to viewers on terrestrial television in many years, and judging by the ratings we can see there is a real hunger amongst our viewers for access to this calibre of sport.

"We are always looking for opportunities to offer viewers what other stations aren't and 2015 has been a great year for sport so far on UTV.

"We've secured the ICC Cricket World Cup highlights and now brought viewers this outstanding fight from the world of boxing.

"Carl Frampton was fighting on home soil to defend a title that not only means so much to him but to every person here in Northern Ireland who has lent their support to the native boxer, as he has climbed the ladder of success.

"UTV was privileged to be in a position to be part of bringing that to the heart of viewers' homes."

Frampton versus Quigg is a fight already shaping up to be a blockbuster, multi-million pound showdown, expected this summer.

"We will sit down and talk with ITV this week," McGuigan said.

"This is a fight that should be free-to-air, a fight for all the people."

He added: "If we can put this on free-to-air TV we will bring another Benn-Eubank bonanza to British boxing.

"We are prepared to be reasonable to make this happen and I hope that Scott and his promoter Eddie Hearn will see the long-term value of doing that rather than us taking this fight to pay-per-view."

Background

Carl Frampton stopped his Californian opponent in the fifth round of Saturday night's fight. Afterwards he said he was prepared to fight Scott Quigg anywhere.

Quigg who climbed into the ring to congratulate the Jackal said he was impressed with Frampton, having had a ringside view of the Belfast man in action at the weekend. "If [Floyd] Mayweather and [Manny] Pacquiao can get made, surely this one can get made," Quigg said. "There's no calling anybody out. For me, it's the biggest fight in British boxing."

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