Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Carl Frampton sets sail for big time at Titanic

Titanic opportunity can propel Jackal to superstar status

Titanic Slipways will launch Carl Frampton towards global fame when he fights Kiko Martinez for the world title at the iconic venue on September 6 – and if Barry McGuigan gets his way 'The Jackal' could be in for plenty more Titanic clashes in future.

Frampton will attempt to rip away the Spaniard's world super bantamweight crown in a special purpose-built temporary arena with a capacity of 16,000 – which means the fight will attract Ulster's biggest ever boxing crowd.

The weather could come in to play but McGuigan is well versed in outdoor events, having won the world title himself at QPR's Loftus Road football stadium in London almost 30 years ago.

And providing 'The Jackal' swims and 'La Sensacion' sinks in the big showdown, which will be beamed live to almost 100 countries, the Shore Road boxer can expect to be back at Titanic Slipways in future – at an even bigger venue.

Boxing legend McGuigan, the former world featherweight champion and now Frampton's promoter, explained: "We are breaking new ground with this fight.

"Carl is concentrating on his big fight on September 6 but it is my job to look beyond that.

"There is potential on the Titanic site for a 25,000-30,000 capacity arena, and that is something we are looking at.

"We looked at going to the Maze site, but that would have been taking people out of the town, and also at the site at the King's Hall.

"The Titanic Quarter is more of an iconic venue."

Frampton has been handed the chance to hit the high notes just a week ahead of BBC Northern Ireland's annual Proms concert at the same venue. The BBC usually have 11 days to prepare the site but have settled on seven days to aid Frampton's world bid.

McGuigan himself was famous for his King's Hall battles, while Frampton is a big Crusaders fan who has talked in the past about boxing at Seaview, but at yesterday's announcement, staged in the Titanic Centre, the excitement about what is Belfast's newest sporting venue – already dubbed 'The Jackal's Den' – was palpable.

"This is going to be an unparalleled event, the like of which the boxing world and Northern Irish sport have never seen before," said 53-year-old McGuigan, whose own iconic night at Loftus Road when he captured the world title with victory over Eusebio Pedroza has gone down as one of the great night's in local sporting history.

It is up there alongside Northern Ireland's 1-0 win over hosts Spain at the 1982 World Cup, Ulster's 1999 European Cup triumph and Dennis Taylor's victory over Steve Davis on the final black in the 1985 world snooker final.

And McGuigan is confident Frampton has the star quality to add his own name to that illustrious list.

"Cyclone Promotions have secured an incredible venue for what will be an incredible event," he added.

"It is only fitting that we, with the assistance of the Northern Ireland Executive, have provided Carl with the best possible platform upon which to win the world title.

"Carl is a superstar in waiting and fully deserves this kind of stage to perform on."

Frampton has made the Odyssey his very own home venue in recent years with a string of stunning victories – including a ninth round stoppage of Martinez last year which saw 'The Jackal' retain his European and Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight titles.

Martinez has since gone on to win the IBF world title, making two successful defences.

And even though this time the fight will be in an outdoor arena, McGuigan guarantees that Martinez can expect an even hotter reception.

"It has been designed to generate an enclosed-type atmosphere and it will look really spectacular," said McGuigan.

And Frampton is thrilled to be getting the chance to fulfill his dream of becoming world champion at such a special sporting theatre.

"I'm over the moon to be fighting at such a unique venue. Titanic Quarter is so historic and represents Belfast through and through," said Frampton.

"It will be a massive event at an unbelievable venue – it's the stuff of fairytales," added the 27-year-old.

"Full credit to Kiko for agreeing to fight in Belfast – but I will beat him again. You can expect fireworks on the night."

Martinez acknowledged that Belfast is a true boxing city and stressed that he intends to leave it with his world title belt still tucked under his arm after the September showdown.

"I am delighted to be defending my title in a big boxing city like Belfast," said Martinez.

So the scene is set for these two warriors to do battle on the grandest of stages.

Ulster has one global superstar in golfer Rory McIlroy. Now Carl Frampton is about to chart a course to the very top.

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