More so than the majority of punches coming their way or the pre-fight nerves, a fighter’s kryptonite can often be the scales. It is Shane McGuigan’s job to make sure Carl Frampton never suffers such a fate.
Getting down to the championship limit can make or break a fighter — particular the smaller men — before the first bell and sometimes with chilling consequences.
Being at ringside in Sheffield 14 years ago to witness weight-drained Paul Ingle stretchered from the ring to have a clot removed from his brain following defeat to Mbuleo Botile after losing his IBF World bantamweight title certainly brought home the stark dangers inherent in the Noble Art.
While Shane admits he is still learning as a coach, the former Ulster senior champion has studiously gained an understanding of how to make sure Frampton tips the scales a fraction under the 122lbs limit and at the same time remain, in his opinion, stronger than any other super-bantamweight in the world.
Indeed, over the past 12 months, Shane has stepped out of the shadow of dad and former world champion Barry, honing the Jackal to perfection with a special diet and strength and conditioning programme for victories over current World champion Kiko Martinez and European title challenger Jeremy Parodi.
“Carl is now lifting heavier weights than ever before, he can do the 100 metres between 11 and 12 seconds and over 60 metres he is even quicker. We look at every aspect of his preparation to make him the best athlete he can be and without doubt he is the best athlete in the super-bantamweight division,” said Shane, ahead of Saturday night’s WBC World super-bantamweight title eliminator with Mexican Hugo Cazarez.
“Before this camp we got some tests down. It’s an MRT test to see what foods he was reacting to badly and what he was reacting to well and then we adjusted things because you have to make sure that an athlete’s immune system and digestive system are working well, so there is less aggravation on both and that we can bring down his body fat.
“So we found that he was reacting badly to black pepper, cauliflower and chicken. He was feeling bloated so we took those out for a time and just focused on other meats and vegetables. His diet is mainly about protein, so he’ll have a meat source like turkey or steak for breakfast lunch and dinner with his veg.
“This time we have seen that he has made the weight more easily and yet he’s bigger than he ever was and stronger. He will hover a couple of pounds above the weight right up to the day of the weigh-in and then have nothing in the morning of the weigh-in so he makes the weight. He only has to make the weight once so that’s the way we do it.
“Then he will re-hydrate and just keep eating the good food for the next 36 hours until fight time. The main thing is that we never let him go hungry. The week of the fight the portions get smaller but he is still eating well. For this fight his body fat will be the lowest ever, at 2.5 per cent.
“The right strength and conditioning certainly gives you an edge in a fight, though I’m not sure what the percentage of the edge because you still have to be able to fight.
“For Carl it allows him to be so big at the weight, there’s not a fitter or stronger super-bantamweight in the world. He could step up and take on featherweights and super-featherweights without a problem.”
When Shane reflects on his dad’s career, he has similar thoughts and believes the Clones Cyclone would have not have blown as early as he did when at the top of his game if he had been in possession of the same knowledge Frampton is now aware of.
“Dad could have achieved so much more if he had been doing the kind of programme that Carl has. Of course what he did was amazing but he wouldn’t have burned out as quickly as he did if he had the kind of strength and conditioning that we have now. He over-trained and he accepts that himself. Though, I do think the 15 rounds suited dad’s style,” added Shane.
“Dad says he was at the featherweight limit of 9st two weeks out and that being the case he could have shed another four pounds and made super-bantamweight and he should have gone on and won a world title at super-featherweight but he didn’t have the knowledge that we have now — if he did he would have defended his title a lot more times.”
“Some former fighters who are trainers today are still ignorant of the way boxing and sport has moved on, they don’t seem to understand that the way you train a fighter for boxing today has changed.”
While some would have questioned the wisdom of Barry placing the development of Frampton in Shane’s hands, the former World champion says he never had a moment’s concern.
“Shane is more like his mother than me because he’s very calm in the corner. I would get too excited so I now just sit at ringside. I still shout but I leave the corner work to Shane,” said Barry.
“He has grown up as a coach and with every fight I can see that he is improving. He deserves all the credit he gets for the way he has worked with Carl, they are a great team.”