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Carl Frampton will join sporting greats and set up more bouts

By David Kelly

History and the future will collide tonight for Carl Frampton like two planets caught in a vortex.

The Samson and Goliath cranes as a backdrop, the Titanic Quarter stage and for a little Hollywood stardust the Game of Thrones trailers will be the dressing rooms for tonight's protagonists.

In one will be a 5ft 5' ripped fighting machine from Tiger's Bay, a mile up the road, who can feel the whole of Northern Ireland willing him to join the legends of boxing and Ulster sport.

Messages of support from Rory McIlroy and Stephen Ferris, to name a couple, have come in for Frampton who takes pride in our heroes of the past – George Best, Jack Kyle, Alex Higgins, Dave McAuley et al. And, of course, his manager Barry McGuigan who has brought the Jackal to this point and intends to take an even higher plain if he can rip the IBF super-bantamweight title from the grasp of Kiko Martinez.

"This could change my life forever, it could change everything and to think I'm fighting out there a mile from my home in front of 16,000 people is just incredible," says Frampton as he gazes across the Titanic landscape.

"If I win this it would set me up for fights that could mean I could live comfortably for the rest of my life.

"It's very humbling to receive the support I have, I can feel the whole country behind me and that's very special and to get messages of support from Rory McIlroy and Stephen Ferris is humbling too.

"I'm very proud of Northern Ireland and I hope the lads do the business against Hungary in the Euros, I'm very proud that we've had one of the best footballers ever in George Best and down through the years we've had so many great fighters and to be up there with them would be incredible."

Many of those great fighters were covered by my predecessor, the late Jack Magowan, who would often enjoy recalling tales of King's Hall nights when 10 to 13,000 packed in to watch legends such as Rinty Monaghan, Freddie Gilroy, John Caldwell and John Kelly in the 1950s and 1960s before health and safety regulations brought down the capacity.

Comparisons can sometimes be odious but this occasion I would suggest ranks with some of the very best the Noble Art has offered in this country.

But while the rest of us can savour the moment, Frampton – in his own measured, clinical fashion – has ripped away the hyperbole wrapping and gazed into the vault of golden options if he executes his game plan. Huge pay-days in battles with Bury's Scott Quigg and Mexican Leo Santa Cruz among others lie on the horizon.

"For Belfast and Ireland and the UK this is very big, people are making it big, it's an exciting fight, one of the most exciting fights of the year in boxing.

"The atmosphere is going to be amazing, the build-up has been incredible but now I have a job to do and it's back to basics – simply, basic boxing is going to win this fight, just remain focused and smart for three minutes of every round and I win this fight," adds Frampton whose daughter Carla will be ringside for the first time.

"You know I spend a lot of time away from my family when I'm in training, this is the sacrifice that has to be made and I do it to make their life better, to make sure I can pay my bills and the mortgage I've just taken out on our new house."

In the opposite corner is the man from whom he took the European title and now he wants Martinez's World crown.

The Spaniard has been haunted by that knockout defeat to Frampton in February 2013 and will pugnaciously throw his heavy handed blows at the Belfast man with more confidence than the last time, if his camp are to be believed.

Stoppage victories over Jhonatan Romero, to win the IBF title, Jeffrey Mathebula and Hozumi Hasegawa have, it is said, re-built his belief as a fighter and now he wants the win that means most to him.

Frampton added: "I wasn't surprised he beat Romero because I thought Romero was average and I could see that an aggressive fighter who was willing to put it all on the line, like Kiko, would give him problems and that's exactly what happened and I remember saying that I wouldn't be surprised if Kiko would be world champion.

"If you're a non-puncher Kiko loves that and if you're a non puncher who moves backwards he loves that but if you can get his respect and hit him hard like I can do he doesn't like that so much, but he just walked through Romero.

"I think people are reading too much into those wins over Romero, Mathebula and Hasegawa.

"Mathebula looked terrible that night and it took him nine rounds to get rid of him and Hasegawa was fried at the weight.

"Against anybody, whether in sparring or a fight, I'm always better second time around and it's going to be the same here.

"I remember in the first fight with Kiko I was able to outbox him but also deal with him inside and I'm a much better inside fighter than before.

"If it comes down to it I'll outfight him and out-think him inside but my boxing ability is the key, I'm the better boxer."

So, history and a golden future lie in the Jackal's hands, the country expects and I expect him to deliver a 10th round stoppage or clear win on points.

Pregnant wife Christine has the bottles of Schloer on ice...

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