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Whatever the result in melting pot of Vegas, boxing star Frampton will always be a champion to his adoring fans

Editor's Viewpoint

One of the greatest dreams for any boxer is to take part in a world title fight in Las Vegas, and for our own Carl Frampton that dream will come true in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

He will defend his WBA featherweight title against the formidable Leo Santa Cruz, whom he beat in a dazzling contest last year. Frampton is tipped to win tomorrow morning, but either way it will be another milestone in the career of this young man from Tiger's Bay in north Belfast. It will also be a memorable weekend for the thousands of fans who have travelled to Las Vegas at great length and cost to give him their vociferous support in a city that is legendary in itself.

Many thousands of other fans who have stayed at home will rise early on Sunday morning to watch the fight on television. Perhaps others will stay in bed to hear it on the radio and listen to the live commentary, rolling with every punch.

This fight will underline the very long journey Carl Frampton has taken in one of the world's toughest sports. In doing so, he has shown enormous discipline, dedication and years of gruelling training, to make him the champion he clearly is.

However, there is something more to his story. He has that magic quality that makes him a star, and draws not just dedication and admiration from his fans, but also genuine affection.

From his relatively modest background in Tiger's Bay, one of Belfast's interfaces, to his love and marriage across the religious divide to Christine from Poleglass, as well as his down to earth practicality and his pride in Northern Ireland, he represents the very best of his native province. In many ways he mirrors his mentor and manager Barry McGuigan, himself a former world champion, who with his wife Sandra also crossed the divide in their marriage.

Carl Frampton is his own man, and a self-made star. The breadth of his appeal is underlined by the prayerful support he is receiving from two elderly Carlow nuns who once supported Barry. All of this is why we wish him well in Las Vegas, but whatever the outcome, he is a champion who has already won an enduring place in our hearts.

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