Carl Frampton is our own Special One: World-class Jackal now boxing's answer to Jose Mourinho, says Dave McAuley
David Kelly in El Paso, Texas
The importance of Saturday night's El Paso fight for Carl Frampton is not lost on anybody within boxing, least of all former World champion Dave McAuley whose American dream ended on a sultry night in Bilbao, writes David Kelly.
That was back in 1992 when McAuley was, by the view of most independent observers, not only robbed of his IBF World flyweight belt after 12 rounds of hard toil but the biggest pay-day of his career.
Promoter Barney Eastwood had put in place a million dollar pay-day for the Larne man against Michael Carbajal, then one of the sport's golden boys. Three judges tore up the script and McAuley's glittering career came to an end, leaving him as the most successful Irish fighter of all time with six World title defences.
Fellow Ulsterman Frampton makes the second defence of his title on the American stage against Alejandro Gonzalez jr, live on the terrestrial channel CBS coast to coast from the Don Haskins Centre, and McAuley has no doubt that the Jackal will be a hit across the pond - and that it will be the continuation of a journey unprecedented in Irish pugilism.
"I think with Carl's style, the Americans will love him. They love a bust-up and Frampton can give them that but also he's a thinking man's fighter, he's such a smart fighter and now he has developed into an exceptional fighter. He's a real one-off," said McAuley, who continues to help run the Halfway House Hotel in Larne with his in-laws.
"It's like this, if Jose Mourinho is the 'Special One' in football then Carl is the 'Special One' in boxing and I really mean that.
"On World title defences I'm the most successful Irish fighter ever but Carl can go way beyond that, it doesn't matter who they put in front of him he will be too good.
"The Americans don't know him yet but they will after Saturday. I'm sure he will make a big impression and I just hope this guy can give him a test but Frampton is so good now that it's going to take a very, very good fighter to hold him off.
"The Americans and Mexicans can't be fooled, they know a good fighter when they see one and when they see Frampton they will want to see him back there fighting some very big names.
"I know people say that Guilermo Rigondeaux is the best in the super-bantamweight division but I have watched his fights and I have no doubt that Frampton would tear him apart.
"Frampton would simply be too strong and hit too hard for Rigondeaux. Yes, Rigondeaux is a very skilful boxer and very slick but he wouldn't be able to hold Frampton off for 12 rounds, no way."
Such is McAuley's belief in unbeaten Frampton, that he is eager to emphasis to those casual sports fans maybe less familiar with the Noble Art the exceptional attributes he possesses - pointing back to the manner in which he retained his title against Chris Avalos at the Odyssey Arena in February.
"I don't think some people realise just how good this young man is and the way he beat Chris Avalos was fabulous. Avalos is a very good fighter and would probably beat someone like Scott Quigg but Frampton just walked through him and that guy was the mandatory challenger," added McAuley.
"That night he was exceptional, his movement, slipping out of range just enough and then back in to do damage - it was textbook stuff, the kind of performance that only great fighters can have and that's what he is becoming, a truly great fighter.
"I know in recent years people would point to Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton as two of the best British fighters ever and they did have some very good wins but this guy is a league above them. He's just different class and I hope he goes and proves it over the next three or four years.
"In some ways he reminds me of a guy who came over to be a chief sparring partner for Barry McGuigan, Carmelo Negron - a really smart super-bantamweight who used to have wars with McGuigan in the gym every day but you can also start comparing him to Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, two of the great super-bantamweights of all time.
"This is the category that Frampton is in. If those two were around they would be concerned about fighting him.
"He's got a premier league belt and all the ingredients that the Americans will love - he can punch, has a great chin and is a very smart boxer.
"You can't ask for more than that so he should be around at the very highest level for a long time to come."