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Frampton v Santa Cruz: Ice-cool Carl not at risk of being blinded by the bright lights

By Ruth Gorman

Imagine walking down Las Vegas strip and seeing your face and name in lights. Then imagine not being fazed by it. That's exactly how the cool, calm and collected Carl Frampton is feeling this week.

Everything is big in America; everything is bigger in Vegas. His MGM Grand hotel base, and venue for Sunday morning's fight, is the largest single hotel in the United States with 6,852 rooms. It is also the third largest hotel complex in the world and every corner you turn in this amazing edifice, a huge poster, billboard or screen with Frampton's image upon it stares back at you.

My cameraman Drew Welsh and I arrived here on Monday to cover the build-up for this special fight for UTV. We took Frampton out to get a shot of him beside his lit up sign on the side of the MGM Grand and I asked him if it felt surreal. His response: "It doesn't really affect me at all." Let that sink in for a moment, this is one of the biggest stages, if not the biggest, in world boxing.

That sums up Carl Frampton. Yes, he appreciates where he is, he knows he's in the fight capital of the world, he knows the history here, he knows this is the biggest fight of his life, but still he is the same grounded Tigers Bay guy who sat in front of a few journalists just over six years ago in the Europa Hotel as he announced his arrival on the professional stage.

What a journey it's been since then. His manager Barry McGuigan sat with me in the dressing room of the MGM Garden Arena and told me he believes "it's only the beginning".

He is genuinely convinced that Frampton is improving all the time as a fighter. "He's knocked two people out in sparring during this training camp, that hasn't happened in three or four years," Barry revealed.

Filming Frampton train in Shawn Porter's gym, just off Sahara Avenue, this week, I could see exactly what McGuigan was talking about.

His power and sharpness during a pads session with trainer Shane McGuigan was mesmerising to watch.

The relationship between trainer and fighter is one of the most crucial components in boxing. Frampton and Shane have something special. Frampton soaked up every piece of guidance Shane offered that night in training and immediately applied it inside the ring, no questions asked. Trust is everything.

With all the hard training complete, it's almost like watching the clock now for Frampton. "I wish the fight was right now," Frampton told me, and that was on Tuesday.

The Jackal's faithful army are starting to descend on the famous Las Vegas strip now and just like the song they keep singing, they're the Ulster boys making all the noise.

It's the bright light city and it's all about who will shine the brightest here in the early hours of Sunday morning. Having watched him in training this week, I'm putting all my chips in Frampton's corner.

Ruth Gorman is UTV Sport Correspondent. You can watch her reports from Las Vegas every evening

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