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Carl Frampton stakes his claim as the best ever Irish fighter

By Adam McKendry

Emotional Barry McGuigan was speaking from the head, as well as the heart, as he hoisted Carl Frampton onto the pantheon of all-time Irish boxing greats.

"I genuinely believe this kid will go on to be the greatest Irish fighter there's ever been," declared Team Frampton manager McGuigan after roaring his protégé on to claim the WBA World featherweight belt on Saturday by outclassing holder Leo Santa Cruz to win a majority verdict at New York's Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.

That made him the first Northern Irishman to claim a World title in two weight divisions, crowning the 29-year-old as a star name of the sport and one of his country's most decorated athletes.

"Tonight was the greatest night of his life. It was a spectacular performance," McGuigan added.

And a host of boxing star names here at home nodded their agreement.

Dave 'Boy' McAuley, who retained the IBF Flyweight World title five times, says he believes Frampton has earned the right to be dubbed Ireland's greatest.

"He's won the WBA and the IBF super-bantam titles, and then he's gone up another weight and he's won a title there too," said the Larne man.

"He's won the two best titles - I know there are seven titles, but he's won the equivalent of the Premiership titles. In my eyes he's now the best fighter that Ireland has ever produced.

"Everybody in this country was writing him off, except for me! I thought he would have knocked him out actually. A points decision could have been hard for him but he won convincingly and took apart a very good World champion. He dismantled him, took him to pieces. It's just proven how good he really is. It was a brilliant night, fantastic."

Derry ace Eamonn O'Kane says the Jackal is rightly viewed as being one of the best fighters in the world. "Not only is he a brilliant boxer, and has won more than any other Irish boxer, but he's also a great guy," said O'Kane, who held the intercontinental middleweight crown.

"He's got all the attributes - he's got the power, he's got the skill, he's got the feet and he's got the charisma to be the best in the world, not just Ireland. I'm delighted for him."

Commonwealth cruiserweight king Darren Corbett hailed Frampton's powerful performance but he's resisting the temptation to make him the cream of the Irish crop.

"What a great fight! It's great that he's now a two-weight World champion, and he's right up there with the best," said Corbett. "Steve Collins was one of the best when he won the super middleweight title, but now Frampton's right up there with him.

"You can't call him the best in Ireland though because there are so many other great boxers - Steve Collins was World champion and in my eyes they're both equal. These are two fighters who stepped up and won World titles. You can't separate them."

Brian Magee, ex-super-middle World champion, feels the Belfast man's historic achievements command respect.

"He's certainly cemented himself in the history books as a two-weight World champion," said Magee.

"People will have their favourites like Freddie Gilroy and John Cardwell, but I would say Frampton is the most successful Irish boxer ever, and being a two-weight World champion is an incredible achievement."

Belfast Telegraph

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