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Barry McGuigan winning war outside ropes

By David Kelly

Sitting in a hotel in Alicante having made a huge offer to the team of Kiko Martinez for a World title fight in Belfast, Barry McGuigan and Carl Frampton started to get a sinking feeling.

Such is the nature of boxing that promoters – and by natural consequence fighters – often have to ally themselves largely to one governing body. A path is chosen, an understanding with the governing body – of which there are four major ones in boxing (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) – is built up and all things being even the fighter ends up at the place of opportunity.

For Frampton that was supposed to be a showdown this weekend with Martinez for his IBF World super-bantamweight title. After all, the Jackal had beaten Jeremy Parodi in an eliminator and the number one contender slot was vacant as Martinez had just beaten the mandatory challenger, Jeffrey Mathebula.

It all seemed very straightforward but then came an suspected roadblock when the IBF left the number one slot vacant, therefore leaving Martinez the opportunity to make voluntary defences and his camp decided to shut the door on Frampton – who 12 months ago knocked out Martinez to win the European title which he has since vacated.

"I knew sitting there, I got the feeling that no amount of money was going to bring them to Belfast," says Frampton and manager McGuigan knew it too.

Instead, Martinez chose to defend his title in Japan against a less dangerous opponent and Frampton was out in the cold.

Having won the IBF inter-continental title and built up a relationship with the governing body, McGuigan and his Cyclone Promotions clearly felt let down with how matters worked out but there was no time to waste licking wounds as it was imperative that Frampton's career did not lose momentum.

A rabbit had to be pulled out of the hat and that came in the shape of Mexican Hugo Cazarez, the World Boxing Council's number one contender, the man in line to face champion Leo Santa Cruz – a much harder proposition than either Martinez or British rival Scott Quigg.

"Not getting Kiko was a knock-back and it would have been easy for Carl's career to stall. It was absolutely fundamental that I got him back into a position where he felt light at end of tunnel," said McGuigan.

"We had to get the job done, we had to get Cazarez, and we did, and we know this is a final eliminator so it's not like the last situation – a win here guarantees a shot at the WBC World title, the famous green belt that so many great champions have worn.

"It took about three weeks of phone calls, emails discussions with the WBC, with Golden Boy and with Cazarrez's people to make the fight.

"It was very difficult and dealing in boxing is difficult because you're having to speak to a number of different people to make a big fight like this happen. My son, Jake, has grown up a lot in this, he has been working very hard at it – he has come on leaps and bounds.

"Patience is very important and the bottom line is you have to pay the right money. It has taken a lot of money to bring Cazarez here, money that some guys wouldn't get for fighting for a world title.

"And now we have had to go down the hardest route to a world title because Santa Cruz is a great champion, but we are not avoiding anyone.

"The fight with Quigg will happen some day, it would be a big fight here and I know that Carl will flatten Scott Quigg."

Frampton's box office appeal has now stretched across the Pond and evidence of that will be seen on Friday night at a sold-out Odyssey when representatives of Golden Promotions are ringside to witness the WBC world title eliminator.

"We are not entering the big league with Carl. When the biggest promotional company in the world starts to take an interest in you then you know just how big this is all becoming.

"What is crucial is that we continue to make the right fights at the right time for Carl though, as we have shown, we are not afraid to take risks because we know what Carl can do, we know that he can take on and beat the very best.

"Fights in America are clearly on the horizon but we will only go to America on our terms and we want as many big fights in Belfast as possible.

"The Belfast fans deserve to have the big nights because there's not a better boxing audience in the world. The atmosphere the last time was amazing for the Parodi fight, BoxNation couldn't believe it, and it's going to be even better this time."

The political battle outside the ropes is clearly being won and now it's over to Frampton to deliver in the ring on Friday night.

Belfast Telegraph


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