Stage set for Carl Frampton to show class to huge audience
Carl Frampton is bringing boxing back to ITV when he defends his IBF World super-bantamweight title against Chris Avalos on February 28.
The undefeated Jackal has become a sporting hero for Northern Ireland over the past 18 months but now manager Barry McGuigan expects his fame to spread right across the UK as he campaigns on the terrestrial format of ITV, having previously boxed on BoxNation and Sky.
Amir Khan featured in the last live ITV broadcast abroad against Paulie Malignaggi in New York in 2010.
Frampton has established himself as the biggest box office attraction in the super-bantamweight division, attracting 16,000 to Ttitanic Quarter when he took the World title from Kiko Martinez and next month's defence with Avalos will be another sell-out at the Odyssey.
The super-bantamweight division is one of the most exciting in world boxing and ITV know that fights with rivals such as WBC World champion Leo Santa Cruz, WBA champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and Mexican Abner Mares would be compulsive viewing for UK sports fans.
Manager McGuigan, who announced the deal with ITV at the headquarters of sponsor CWM, said: "This is where Carl Frampton deserves to be, on ITV boxing in front of a big television audience. This is huge for Carl and it's huge for boxing.
"We are very excited to be partnering with ITV in bringing World championship boxing back to the mainstream public. ITV have for the past 30 years been at the forefront of big time boxing on terrestrial television and it is excellent news that Carl Frampton will become the latest in a long line of World champions who have boxed on ITV. Frampton versus Avalos is going to be a cracking contest between two of the best super-bantamweights in the world.
"This is a fight that is going to test all the credentials of Carl Frampton.
"I think ITV have got themselves a great deal because Carl is the full package and when he fights Belfast is buzzing and the atmosphere is amazing.
"We had other offers on the table but after a couple of conversations with Niall Sloane of ITV we had the deal done - it was the right one and now we have to go and put on a real show for ITV and the public.
"The fight fans know Carl and now we believe the UK sports fans and the casual fans are going to get to know him, get to see him as a great fighter but also to know his story. It's a great opportunity."
This hugely significant deal for Cyclone Promotions is also a step forward in McGuigan's team promoting and developing more boxers - and not just Irish fighters as he has done in the past couple of years with World ranked featherweight and super-flyweight Marc McCullough and Jamie Conlan whose undercard fights will be on ITV4.
Frampton is now the flagship boxer on ITV and Cyclone can expect interest from many other fighters eager to have the opportunity to box in front of a much bigger potential audience than those enjoyed by the satellite broadcasters.
McGuigan added: "We are looking to expand, we are looking to invest in more talent so it's good for boxing as a whole. Jamie Conlan and Marc McCullough are both now ranked in the WBO's top five and are going to be in exciting fights at the Odyssey."
Champion Frampton knows he has been handed a golden opportunity to raise his profile and box office appeal even further.
Frampton said: "I am delighted to be defending my World title live on ITV. When I was a young lad all of the big fights were on ITV so to be defending my World title on the channel is a dream come true. Boxing needs mainstream exposure and I am thrilled to be part of its return to terrestrial television with ITV."
Ulsterman Niall Sloane, Head of Sport at ITV, commented: "This fight presents an opportunity to showcase a young, exciting British boxer to our audience.
"We're looking forward to bringing viewers an evening of world class boxing."