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Carl Frampton: proof that nice guys can come out on top


Carl Frampton at the weigh-in yesterday

Carl Frampton at the weigh-in yesterday

Getty Images

Carl Frampton at the weigh-in yesterday

It is a fight made in promoters' heaven: two undefeated world champions putting their respective belts on the line and both appearing to hold a genuine chance of victory.

Up to 20,000 fans are expected to crowd the Manchester Arena for the clash of Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg.

Frampton is the idol of Northern Ireland boxing fans, mirroring in some ways the life and career of his mentor Barry McGuigan. The 29-year-old, brought up in the fiercely loyalist Tigers Bay area of north Belfast, is married to a Catholic, a mixed marriage like that of McGuigan.

But like McGuigan, Frampton's success has transcended the parochial divided politics of Northern Ireland, unifying fight fans of all denominations and none behind the most exciting boxer to emerge from the province in recent years.

He is now a global brand and his ability to mix shrewd tactical boxing with power-packed all-out attacks - 14 of his 21 victories have come through knockouts - make him a must-see attraction in arguably the toughest sport of all.

Frampton, like golfers Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, is a hugely positive ambassador for Northern Ireland. He literally proves that when it comes to sport this province punches well above its weight.

Tonight's fight has been given added spice because of what seems to be a genuine air of ill-feeling betwen the two boxers' camps. Trash talking and hype are common in the build- up to most contests, usually in an attempt to maximise box office returns, but this bout needs none of that.

These are two boxers at the height of their powers and opinion on who will win remains divided even among the shrewdest of judges. Of course the whole of Northern Ireland will be behind Frampton. He is a genuinely nice man outside the ring, even if he has a completely different persona inside it. We are all willing that it will be his hand raised in victory tonight.

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