Showtime for Carl Frampton: Beat Scott Quigg and big time beckons
Carl Frampton can boost his potential to become a huge star in the United States with an eye-catching victory over Scott Quigg at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
While the World super-bantamweight title clash is a huge attraction in the UK, being shown on Sky Box Office, top American cable channel Showtime are also screening the fight - much to the delight of their head of sports Stephen Espinoza.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Espinoza outlined his belief that Frampton (right) has already laid solid foundations to build upon Stateside with his dramatic, successful defence against Alejandro Gonzalez jr last July in El Paso, when he was on the canvas twice in the opening round.
That was shown live by Showtime's parent company CBS, attracting two million afternoon viewers, and Espinoza insists that the Jackal made a big impression.
"I thought it was funny in discussing the rights to show this fight with the McGuigans because it was clear neither they nor Carl were happy with his performance in El Paso but from a TV network standpoint the fans got a thrilling fight," said Espinoza.
Espinoza added: "We couldn't have asked for more - the fans got a thrilling fight and the fight was memorable for anyone watching.
"Everyone got to see Carl's mettle, his determination to overcome adversity. If you're going to make a debut in America then there's not going to be anything more exciting than what happened in El Paso. By the end of the fight the Mexican fans were chanting 'Carlos, Carlos'.
"He made an impact and gained fans with that performance and I'm delighted that we have the rights to this fight between Carl and Scott Quigg.
"Carl's a very skilled fighter but importantly away from the ring he is very personable, very charismatic and he can become as big as Ricky Hatton was here in the States - he's never in a boring fight."
Espinoza not only points to the charisma and fighting ability of Frampton but also the landscape of huge fights that are opening up for the Belfast man, around super-bantamweight and featherweight.
"When you look at the vicinity between 122lb and 126lb there are a wealth of really good matches that can be made. Those divisions seem to be going through a real renaissance. You have guys like Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Gary Russell - all high quality fighters," he said. "It just takes one big fight to gain you a lot of causal fans in America. Just look at Tyson Fury after he defeated Wladimir Klitschko. That has put him on the map - the same happened with Hatton when he beat Kostya Tszyu."
Espinoza, once the lawyer of Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson, was the man who sealed the deal for Floyd Mayweather Jnr to box on Showtime in the last six bouts of his 49-fight unbeaten record and while many within the sport believe 'Money' could be tempted back for one more fight, he is not convinced.
"I do not think he will fight again. I was with most people thinking he would make a comeback but I detected a shift four to six weeks before his last fight," he added. "Everything I've seen and heard, including seeing him in New York, tells me that it is not in his mind."
As for the state of British boxing, Espinoza says fans should enjoy what is "a golden era for the UK" - including Saturday night's blockbuster between Frampton and Quigg.