Frampton v Gutierrez: McGuigan expecting Carl to show his title hunger
If ever you wanted to see the outpouring power of a champion's mindset then golfer Jordan Spieth provided it in his Open Championship victory at the weekend. Carl Frampton's supporters want to see a similar script unfold this Saturday night.
A first defeat on his CV at the hands of rival Leo Santa Cruz hurt the Jackal in January at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Instead of moving on to a featherweight World title unification bout, Frampton has had to suck up six months of frustration and at the same time prepare to pass the test of Mexican Andres Gutierrez in order to once more challenge for World honours.
Spieth had to contend with the pain of a Masters meltdown in 2016 when victory seemed a formality, and then on Sunday, as Major glory was once more on the table at Royal Birkdale, he found himself holding his head in despair as his tee shot on the 13th sailed wildly right.
The mental demons wanted to cast their spell and leave him a broken man, but the 23-year-old American faced them down and showed the kind of character that personified the thoughts of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, who once commented that "champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill".
Frampton's manager Barry McGuigan knows all about handling the shock of defeat, his first loss a bolt from the blue when being outpointed by Peter Eubanks at the Corn Exchange in Brighton in only his third bout as a professional. Four months later, the loss was avenged.
"I had been really fed up with the amateur game with some terrible decisions. I had beaten the Olympic champion from here to Cork and back in the George Wimpey multi-nations at Wembley but they gave it against me, and before that I had been robbed in the Olympics and Euro Championships, so I decided to go pro. Then it happens again and the referee gives the fight to Eubanks, and everyone in the hall, in his home town, howled the place down," said McGuigan.
"It was tough to take but it made me more determined than ever to beat the guy the next time and it made me more determined to improve, and that's the kind of response I want to see from Carl this Saturday night.
"This fight with Gutierrez is about showing how mentally tough he is, how hungry he is to get back to the place where he was, to really show how much it means to be World champion again because he must beat this guy to get another World title chance.
"It's also about looking good because every TV network is going to be watching this, wanting to see how exciting a potential fight between him and IBF World champion Lee Selby will be."
Former World champion McGuigan is confident that Northern Ireland hero Frampton will demonstrate his fortitude once again before a sold-out SSE Arena, setting himself once more on the path to World title success, with IBF champion Selby one of the main targets.
"Losing to a Hall of Fame fighter like Leo Santa Cruz is no disgrace, it only takes a drop of five per cent in your performance and that's what can happen. That's what it was in Vegas. I know that Carl can beat this guy on Saturday night, he can beat Selby and Santa Cruz - he's done it before and he can do it even more convincingly," said McGuigan.
"This is a new situation for Carl to be in, coming off a first loss is something the majority of fighters have to deal with. It's easy for anyone to become negative but, as I've said all along, this guy is special and I expect him to go and show that he is superior to Gutierrez in every department."