Belfast Telegraph

Frampton's tribute to mentor Billy McKee after a wonderful night at Windsor

By David Kelly

From the moment he laid on a pair of gloves, Carl Frampton had a special relationship with Billy McKee - and on Saturday night at Windsor Park he was quick to dedicate his victory over Luke Jackson to the veteran coach.

McKee has long been the head coach at the Midland Club in Tigers Bay, offering a beacon of hope to kids, just like a seven-year-old Frampton who walked into the club 24 years ago.

As usual McKee was at ringside at Windsor Park, one of the 25,000 there to witness Frampton enjoy his dream night at the home of the Northern Ireland football team.

While all those around him were lost in the emotion of roaring on the Jackal to a ninth round stoppage, McKee continues to look upon him "with a coach's eye".

Throughout his amateur days McKee was the guiding hand for Frampton who has never taken his mentor for granted, continuing to this day to ask for permission to train in the club.

"Billy was with me at the start, he always looked out for me and fought my corner when I was an amateur. He gave me the fundamentals and taught me how to box and I will always be grateful to him," Frampton said.

"Billy was always very protective, he knew I was dedicated and probably gave me a bit more attention. Other guys would come and go but I took it seriously and Billy played a big part in what I am today.

"Billy's straight and he doesn't take any nonsense and I have always respected what he has done for me and everyone else in the club."

While McKee is proud of the way Frampton rose to Ulster and Irish senior title success, as well as a European Union silver before going on to win world titles at super-bantamweight and featherweight, it means much more to see how the Jackal carries himself with the public.

"You can have all the money in the world and be a clampett and what pleases me is that he's certainly not a clampett," said McKee.

"He conducts himself the way a sportsman should and that's what is important to me. His parents Craig and Flo gave him great support and he has been a credit to them and he's a credit to Northern Ireland."

Frampton lit up Windsor Park with his brilliance once again as he cut down the challenge of Jackson amid an atmosphere that was unparalleled, according to former world flyweight champion Dave McAuley.

"That was the best atmosphere at boxing in Belfast that I've ever experienced," said McAuley, who was at ringside.

The only sour note for Frampton was the painful stoppage defeat for close friend Paddy Barnes at the hands of world champion Cristofer Rosales, while former unified heavyweight champion Tyson Fury hailed the Belfast public after his win over Italian Francesco Pianeta.

"Belfast you are beautiful," roared Fury from the ring.

Belfast Telegraph

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