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Carl Frampton v Scott Quigg: Green Army take over Manchester on a night to savour

By David Kelly

Published 29/02/2016

Famous fans: Jimmy Nesbitt, AP McCoy and Martin O’Neill enjoy the Carl Frampton fight
Famous fans: Jimmy Nesbitt, AP McCoy and Martin O’Neill enjoy the Carl Frampton fight

By the end it felt like a celebration of everything that is good about Northern Ireland. They had come from every part of the country to be part of the Jackal Army in Manchester and an hour before the opening bell the roars of "There's only one Carl Frampton" and "Everywhere we go it's the Ulster boys making all the noise" were echoing across the Manchester Arena.

It didn't matter that a WBC World title eliminator was ongoing in the ring, the biggest cheers came when Sky flashed up on the big screens pictures of Frampton getting taped up and ready for battle and the boos and whistles came when the cameras shifted back stage to the Scott Quigg dressing room.

And yes, it wasn't the one he had wanted - dressing room gate had come to a close on the morning of the fight when they agreed that neither man should use it.

When it was time for them to leave for their IBF/WBA super-bantamweight title fight, Frampton was walked to the ring by a quartet of the Green And White Army's Euro 2016 heroes, while at ringside top actor Jimmy Nesbitt had donned a retro Northern Ireland top, sitting alongside legendary jockey AP McCoy while on the other side of the ring sat Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill.

This was spine-tingling, nerve-shredding emotive sport and the supporters were salivating at the prospect of a struggle to match the hyperbole - they didn't quite get it but the last four rounds would live long in the memory and even more so the whole exhilarating occasion.

The anticipation of a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the country's sports fans was growing as was the nervousness of whether or not their man could prevail on the biggest night of his career. "I really hope Carl wins and I think has the boxing skill to do it but it's going to be really tight," said one fan.

It was a showdown to make both men secure for the rest of their lives, with ticket sales, sponsorship, television rights and pay-per-view sales expected to generate around £8m.

Now it was all about the sport. Quigg had arrived to loud cheers and even more boos as the Jackalites made their feelings known and boy did they let Frampton know just how much they were willing him to victory.

Frampton, a naturally modest man, brought some glamour when bedecked in his white leather attire with maroon and gold trim and his performance and after the drama of 12 rounds we had a twist in the tale which would be right at home in any Holywood thriller. The Jackalites gasped in disbelief as the first judge had given it to Quigg.

The seconds before legendary MC Michael Buffer declared "the pride of Belfast, Northern Ireland" as the winner seemed like an eternity.

Frampton had done it, the final scenes of this three-month drama belonged to him and he wasn't finished.

As Sky went through their ritual post-fight interview, Frampton led the fans in a chorus of "Everywhere we go..."

On this night Manchester and British boxing belonged to little land across the Irish Sea.

Belfast Telegraph

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