Carl Frampton knows all about winning on finals night at the Irish championships and believes Ulster can enjoy more success over the coming three weeks.
Indeed, Frampton feels that light-heavyweight Tommy McCarthy can go one better and shock Olympic silver medallist Kenny Egan.
For the first time, the finals will be held over two nights which seems a bizarre decision simply because of the demands of RTE television. March 5 and 6 are the dates and a re-match between Egan and McCarthy is the likely outcome.
Frampton, who won last year’s featherweight title after a stunning performance against David Oliver Joyce, said: “Big Tommy has the talent to beat Egan, there’s no doubt about that, although Kenny will start favourite again.
“But Tommy has filled out, he looks a lot stronger. I know from talking to him that he would have walked around at 79kg and his division is 81 kg but this time he has come down to the weight and that is great for him.
“So he’s going to be stronger and of course last year he pushed Egan close so if they do meet again it should be a good final.”
Frampton, who had a mural unveiled in his honour yesterday at the Midland ABC in Tiger’s Bay, is also hoping that Eamonn O’Kane can claim an Irish title
after years of coming up short despite winning seven Ulster titles and a European bronze medal in 2008.
Frampton, a former Irish team-mate of O’Kane, said: “On his day Eamonn can give anyone trouble. I remember watching him give the world champion all he wanted when we were in Turkey but then he came back and lost in the Ulster final to Stephen O’Reilly for whatever reason.
“Darren O’Neill is probably the favourite but Eamonn can win it and hopefully Ulster will have a few more winners as well.”
Frampton has moved on from his amateur days having chalked up four exciting wins following his decision to sign professional terms with former World champion Barry McGuigan. But the Belfast man still took time out to work with former rival Joyce.
Frampton added: “I had some good sparring with David Oliver down in Dundalk. You could have put us both in a telephone booth.
“We did five rounds one day and six the next. It was so good that a few old ladies who were doing some knitting actually stopped to watch!”
Super-bantamweight Frampton returns to the ring on March 5 in Huddersfield for his first six- rounder.
Meanwhile, Irish president Dominic O’Rourke has defended the decision by the IABA to have the finals over two nights as well as the Central Council’s recent decision to deny Katie Taylor permission to box on the professional bill in Dublin last weekend.
O’Rourke said: “It’s time to move on from the Katie Taylor decision.
“The Central Council made their decision and that’s it. We have a programme for all our athletes in the High Performance Unit and we’re focused on getting Katie ready for the World Championships in Barbados later in the year.
“Because of television we have decided to see how the finals go over two nights.”
The weigh-ins and draw are this morning with the preliminaries starting tonight.