Carl Frampton had to bounce back off ropes to shine at highest level
Carl Frampton's career appeared to be going nowhere fast after he lost three National Elite fights in a row.
The Belfast man stunned Mexico's Leo Santa Cruz to claim the WBA World featherweight title on a majority decision in New York in the early hours of yesterday morning.
However, Frampton, who won his first Irish Elite belt in 2005, looked as if he was going to quit after dropping decisions to TJ Doheny, Ryan Lindberg and Kevin Fennessy in the 2006/07/08 Elite Irish semi-finals at Dublin's National Stadium.
But the new WBA champion, boxing out of the Midland White City BC under coach Billy McKee, bounced back in 2009 to beat Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce in a classic featherweight final.
"You could see the change in him," said multiple Elite champion Eric Donovan. "He had that look of a champion."
Frampton first caught the eye of Barry McGuigan at the 2007 EU Championships at Dublin's National Stadium.
Ken Egan (gold), Roy Sheahan (gold), Darren Sutherland (gold), Frampton (silver) and Cathal McMonagle (silver) finished in podium positions to help Ireland top the medals table. McGuigan, now Frampton's manager, was at ringside.
"This kid (Frampton) in the ring, I like his style," said the former WBA featherweight champion of the future WBA featherweight champion.
Frampton lost the 2007 EU decider to France's Beijing 2008 silver medallist Khedafi Djelkhir, but won the praise of the then Irish head coach Billy Walsh.
"Carl was appearing in the final of his first major international tournament against an experienced opponent who would go on to reach an Olympic final. He performed well," said Walsh.
Frampton didn't make the Irish team for the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Chicago in 2007, nor the European qualifiers in Italy and Greece. The two-weight World champion switched codes a few months after beating Joyce in 2009 and stopped Hungarian southpaw Sandor Szinavel on his pro debut in Liverpool.