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Olympic hopefuls Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan back Carl Frampton to defeat Scott Quigg

By Declan Bogue

Published 11/02/2016

Boxing clever: Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Steven Donnelly at their Olympic preparation camp at Sport Northern Ireland’s Sports Institute yesterday
Boxing clever: Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Steven Donnelly at their Olympic preparation camp at Sport Northern Ireland’s Sports Institute yesterday
Carl Frampton

Two of Belfast's Olympic boxing contenders have given Carl Frampton their approval for his upcoming super-bantamweight world title fight against Scott Quigg.

Speaking at the Irish Amateur Boxing Association's open training camp at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland's Jordanstown base, Frampton's best man and long-time friend Paddy Barnes says it comes down to a matter of skill.

The fight is one of the most eagerly-anticipated of the year and is staged on February 27 at the Manchester Arena.

"I think Frampton is going to stop him in eight rounds," he began.

"I think Quigg's fit and is durable enough, but he hasn't any real skill. He is just a robot. Carl Frampton (pictured) is going to break him down and it could be sooner, but I think it is going to be eight rounds."

Barnes revealed he had spent some time sparring against his fellow north Belfast man prior to Christmas, and admitted to being surprised at how good a condition Frampton was already in.

"Not just because it was Christmas, but he has done a lot of hard training since then. He will be in some shape come fight night," he said.

Read more: Carl Frampton stays ice cool as rival Scott Quigg lets rip

Barnes' cast-iron confidence that he is going to bring back gold from the Rio Olympics was very much in evidence when he assessed the chances of himself and Michael Conlan.

"Bottom line is that we know we are the best in our weight. We know that if we are on form, then nobody can beat us. If we have an off day, then anybody can beat us," he said.

"That's why I was saying that the biggest opponent facing us is ourselves."

World Amateur champion Conlan was more hesitant about the Manchester showdown, but still gave the nod to Frampton, saying: "I have been watching the build-up, it has been very interesting. I think Frampton wins if he sticks to the gameplan, but it's one of those ones that anything can happen, you can't be too sure.

"Frampton should be able to hold him off for the whole fight, if he does I think he wins on points or a late stoppage.

"I don't think Quigg can out-box him. He might be able to out-rough him and out-work him. It's going to be a good fight."

He believes Frampton's last fight, a slightly underwhelming narrow win over Alejandro Gonzalez Jnr in Texas that exposed some shortcomings, might just serve as a timely caution.

"That will definitely stand him in good stead. It was a wake-up call and it happened to me in the World Championships, I let my guard down for a split second and those things make you a better athlete and a better fighter.

"I think it will stand to Carl in good stead. He will be a lot more cautious than he was in Texas."

However, Conlon is not ruling out the effect that mind games can have in these situations, and made the point that Quigg and the Hearn camp have been ahead in this regard.

Just two days ago, Eddie Hearn suggested the fight will end in "brutal" fashion, adding that he cannot see Quigg beaten.

"If he (Frampton) gets involved emotionally he can lose the fight. You can see it going that way, the way it has been going on all the press tours. Carl seems to be biting a bit, when he shouldn't be," said Conlon.

"But that's boxing. You can't let people like that get to you, that's their job, to try and wind you up and mess your head up, it's not going to be the first time it has happened in boxing and it is not going to be the last time it happens."

While it is widely expected that Conlan may join the professional ranks after the Rio Olympics, he appeared to slightly distance himself.

"There is big, big money, big build-up and big fan bases going over for Frampton and Quigg. I am sure I would have a big fanbase also and it would be fantastic," he said.

"But I am going to hold off on saying I am going to go pro at the minute.

"Something might change and I might want to stay and do the APB boxing, or the WSB boxing, whatever route happens for me after the Olympic games."

Belfast Telegraph

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