Carl Frampton signs with firm whose gym was raided by gardai
Carl Frampton was last night facing questions after revealing that he had signed a deal with a controversial gym that was once searched by police investigating the Kinahan criminal gang.
The 30-year-old north Belfast boxer recently split from long-term partners Barry McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions.
Frampton's most recent fight was supposed to be against Andres Gutierrez in Belfast, but it was called off after Gutierrez suffered a facial injury in a bizarre hotel accident.
MTK Global will work alongside Frampton in an advisory role.
There is no suggestion the former world champion has any knowledge of or involvement in crime.
MTK Global has a number of Irish fighters on its books, including two other Belfast stars - two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes, and 2015 world amateur champion Michael Conlan - as well as fellow Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce, none of whom have any involvement in crime.
Frampton was last night unavailable for comment, but in a statement about the deal, he said: "MTK are a relatively new organisation and recently celebrated their fifth anniversary.
"But if you look at what they have already done, they have big-name fighters like Billy Joe Saunders and recruited a lot of boxers from Ireland and I feel that they can get me the best deal with a promoter.
"There was always the possibility that I could go my own way, but to have someone on your side advising you and getting you the best deal possible is always important and I feel Matthew Macklin and MTK Global can definitely do that.
"I listened to everyone before making my decision.
"If you look at what's going on at the moment, they are the best in the business and getting their boxers involved in some really big fights and it's only going to continue and keep getting better."
Frampton's aim is a third, and deciding, fight against WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz.
"That would be the dream come true to fight Leo (Santa Cruz) in the third fight at Windsor Park and beat him, that would be pretty perfect and ideal.
"That's an objective of mine, to fight at Windsor one day and that's what I want to do and hopefully, it will happen. It's the biggest venue in Belfast and I support Northern Ireland very passionately.
"The atmosphere has always been pretty incredible, you need to get to a match to understand it, there's no other place like it and I want to put on a big boxing night to experience it, it would be a dream come true for me."
MTK Global, previously known as Macklin's Gym Marbella (MGM), was founded by retired professional Matthew Macklin, who also has no involvement with crime.
Mobster Daniel Kinahan, a son of international drug trafficker Christy Kinahan, was heavily involved in the running of the Spanish gym but has taken a step back.
In an interview earlier this year, Macklin said: "Me and Daniel started off MGM.
"We were best friends and like I said I was over there all the time when I was training... so we set that up and it just grew from there. Obviously then there's been a lot of bad publicity... Daniel has taken a backwards step.
"He still advises lots of fighters."
It was recently raided as part of an operation by Spanish police investigating the murder of Gary Hutch (33) in 2015.
Dubliner James Quinn (34) was arrested in relation to the operation and is currently facing charges before a Spanish court for the murder of Hutch.
An MGM-sponsored event - called Clash of the Clans - was taking place in the Regency Hotel last year when a six-man hit team stormed the hotel, murdering cartel lieutenant David Byrne (33).
Daniel Kinahan is believed to have been the primary target of the hit.
MTK founder Matthew Macklin said he is excited to have Frampton onboard.
"We are delighted and honoured that Carl has chosen MTK to guide him through this next phase of his career and we are confident that we can help deliver the big fights he has targeted," he said.