Veteran insists Carl Frampton's as big as McGuigan and McAuley
Fermanagh man John Williamson has been following boxing since 1958 and tomorrow night in El Paso, Texas, he will be the British Boxing Board of Control's representative at ringside when Carl Frampton defends his IBF World super-bantamweight title, writes David Kelly
Williamson is the chairman of the Northern Ireland Area Council as well as the vice chairman of the British Boxing Board of Control, who always send a top official to oversee one of their members in action and most recently the 70-year-old could be seen Stateside in May when James DeGale landed the IBF World super-middleweight title in Boston.
Before joining the Northern Ireland Area council, Williamson would never have missed a big boxing event and was at ringside every step of the way when Frampton's manager Barry McGuigan was charting his path to World title success.
Now he is relishing the rise and rise of Frampton, who makes the second defence of his belt against Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez jnr at the Don Haskins Centre tomorrow night.
Williamson has no doubt that Frampton now sits on top of the super-bantamweight world, even though some would still point to WBA champion Guillermo Rigondeaux as the main man at 122lb - and it's not simply a judgement based on pure fighting ability.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Williamson said: "Everybody wants to fight Carl because he's the one man in the division who's going to make you a lot of money, it's very simple - the rest of them you could probably put on in the Ulster Hall.
"Scott Quigg is a lovely young man but I think Frampton is a class above him.
"When it comes to putting bums on seats, nobody can compare to the box office attraction that is Carl Frampton.
"People used to say to me that fighters aren't born, they're made and I didn't really believe it but as time has gone on I do believe it because to get to the very top you have to have the right people around you.
"There's a lot of people involved to get a fighter to where he is, including the media - they have to believe in him and you can see that with Frampton.
"He has the right people around him and he has been brought along the right way and, unfortunately, there have been other boxers from Belfast and that hasn't been the case and they haven't fulfilled their potential.
"The Northern Ireland public have really taken to Carl because he's a genuinely nice guy... it's amazing that such a nice fella can go into the ring, switch on and become so ruthless, but of course he has to be.
"For us as the Northern Ireland Area council, it is great to have regular big fights here and to have someone like Carl Frampton representing the sport on the world stage.
"You couldn't get a better role model than Carl Frampton, he carries himself very well, he conducts himself so well - just a gentleman and Barry McGuigan himself is a fantastic ambassador for world boxing.
"This time we are having now with Frampton is right up there with the days of Barry McGuigan and Dave McAuley and when you look at the show at Titanic Quarter last year, that was the biggest show that I have seen in Belfast and I've been going to boxing since 1958.
"In his early fights Carl didn't show the promise that he has shown in recent fights but over the past couple of years he has proved himself to be absolutely fantastic.
"He's a great fighter, he can box and fight - he moves well, his footwork is great and he took the title from a tough man in Kiko Martinez. You couldn't be sure how Kiko's fight with Scott Quigg will go because of the big punch Kiko has and particularly in the first four rounds"
Should Frampton retain his title tomoroow night, Williamson is hopeful that he will return to Belfast to defend his World crown but believes it may well have to be another outdoor stage for the Jackal.
"Carl is such a big star now that it's going to have to be a really big show to see Carl back in Belfast, it's going to have to be outdoor, I would think, and that is possible with the right opponent."