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Modest Ulster hero refusing to steal Will Grigg's thunder

By Ruth Gorman

Published 30/07/2016

It takes two: Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz get up close at yesterday's weigh-in ahead of their big showdown
It takes two: Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz get up close at yesterday's weigh-in ahead of their big showdown

"Frampton's on fire, Santa Cruz is terrified," came the cry from the Carl Frampton faithful at the Barclays Center during the weigh-in. Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline boomed out on the tannoy system seconds later. It was like being back at the European Championship finals in France with Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland team.

In true Frampton fashion he dismissed the idea of adopting the song, afterwards saying he didn’t want to steal Will Grigg’s thunder.

But he was overwhelmed by the support here in New York.

So much so that he went straight to the fans after the face off with Leo Santa Cruz for  selfies, to shake hands and soak up the passionate support.

He’s even hired a venue out tomorrow for the travelling fans to show his appreciation, win, lose or draw.

Around 1,200 fans are believed to have travelled to America from back home and had it not been for the Euros leaving some people paying off their trips to France for the foreseeable future, then many more would have followed.

There were also ex-pats from Canada, Florida and Texas at the weigh-in lending their voice.

Frampton’s old amateur coach Billy McKee from Midland Boxing Club was in attendance too, enjoying the rip-roaring atmosphere.

After mingling with his supporters, Frampton made a beeline for his family.

They are and always will be his biggest motivation.

One-year-old son Rossa was clapping with a huge smile on his face as soon as he saw his dad step on to the stage and five-year-old daughter Carla hasn’t wanted to leave his side since she got here.

Frampton’s mum and dad are out in the Big Apple too.

I asked his mum how she copes with watching her son go to war from the front row.

“He believes so we believe,” said Flo Frampton.

“You get used to sitting ringside and watching all the events unfold, it is hard at times but we always believe he’ll win if he does.”

And he really does this time. He’s convinced he’ll show the world that he’s one of the best  fighters to come out of Ireland

Frampton wants to return to America after this fight with Madison Square Garden in his sights.

He’s also keen to return big nights back to Belfast having had his last three fights away from home.

He’d love a contest at the new Windsor Park possibly next summer with the home fans able to turn up in their thousands — now that really would feel like the Euros all over again.

Belfast Telegraph

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