Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Carl Frampton taking Barry McGuigan back in time

Buzz around The Jackal has intensity of McGuigan's rise

Thinking big: Carl Frampton, in his old amateur club Midland, knows the stakes are getting higher as he pursues World honours
Thinking big: Carl Frampton, in his old amateur club Midland, knows the stakes are getting higher as he pursues World honours

Barry McGuigan has a sense of déjà vu, even if there has been a 30-year gap between the time his career took off and that of his protégé, Carl Frampton.

As October 19 at the Odyssey Arena has drawn ever closer for Frampton, McGuigan has been drawn back in time to when he felt the touch paper light on his own road to box office hit and ring acclaim.

European super-bantamweight champion Frampton is on the cusp of drawing a sell-out crowd at the Odyssey this Saturday night in the first defence of his EBU belt against Frenchman Jeremy Parodi.

In November 1983, McGuigan was dismantling Valerio Nati to win the European featherweight title in his first headline act at the King's Hall.

Former World champion McGuigan can see that, like himself, Tiger's Bay man Frampton has an appeal which stretches beyond that of the passionate fight fan.

It is also noteworthy that while McGuigan (pictured) had the benefit of terrestrial television coverage, Frampton has come through on a few showings on Sky Sports and now the boxing channel BoxNation – though of course 30 years ago social media meant you actually had a conversation with someone.

"Without doubt it is reminiscent of my time. It was around the Valerio Nati fight for the European title that it started to fizz and bubble for me," said McGuigan.

"And then we had the Felipe Orzoco fight after that and you had Cornelius Boza Edwards on the bill, we had American TV interested – CBS came over with commentators Gil Clancy and Tim Ryan to do the fight and you could feel the burgeoning excitement. You could feel it in the air amongst the people.

"Now I feel it too, walking to the gym, everybody talking about the fight. I had the same and I tried to ignore it because I didn't want it to get me over-excited but Carl's different to me because he loves it.

"He absorbs it and enjoys it and it doesn't spook him in any shape or form.

"I liked a bit more isolation, I had a few more idiosyncrasies, he's more casual, more relaxed, but the ultimate relationship is between him and Shane.

"Carl would see more of Shane's mother in him than me, in the sense of his personality because he is very calm, he's very phlegmatic.

"I would have been slightly more nervous than this kid, there's no doubt about it, but he's very relaxed.

"But I was very thorough and I would have been more detailed in my training than Carl in the sense that I would have trained obsessively whereas he trains more intelligently.

"He likes to do his work and go home. I would have fought on Saturday and then been in the gym on Sunday... looking back on it that was probably stupid. He switches off and he realises that he has to let the engine run down again and then build it back up.

"The fight game is a tough, tough business. I always had a very intense attitude to it because in this business you have to be absolutely right in the sense you have to know you have trained hard so I would overdo it as opposed to under-doing.

"And also I sickened myself in the gym, I just never came out of it and after a while it got to the stage that I didn't enjoy it any more."

With the growing excitement around Frampton, there naturally comes growing expectation which for some sportsmen can be overwhelming.

"I have no concern about that with Carl. He's loving it, the extra pressure and the support, he thrives on it," said McGuigan.

Meanwhile, Belfast heavyweight Tommy McCarthy will get the Irish campaign under way today at the World championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Following yesterday's draw, McCarthy has been matched with Nicolay Mutavski of Bulgaria, while four Irish boxers, Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes, Jason Quigley and Joe Ward were seeded and consequently received byes into the last 32.

Double Olympic bronze medallist Barnes has moved up from light-flyweight to fly, while close friend Conlan has moved up a division to bantamweight.

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