Carl Frampton can seal title as best ever Irish fighter, says Eastwood
Barney Eastwood has spent a lifetime consumed by his passion for boxing and he believes that tonight will be a highly significant moment in the history of the sport on this island.
Eastwood, manager of six major world champions as well as British, European and Commonwealth champions, is eagerly anticipating the battle between IBF featherweight title holder Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton at the Manchester Arena - believing the stage is set for the Jackal to once sit on top of the 9st division.
"If Carl Frampton comes back to win the world featherweight title for a second time after two years then I would say that makes him without doubt the greatest Irish fighter of all time," said Eastwood.
"It's by no means a formality, but if you were to give me a million pounds and I had to pick the opponent Carl would have to face to become a world champion again, then I would choose Josh Warrington.
"I just feel that his style of fighting will suit Frampton but he will have to be at the top of his game. He has done well with his last three performances since the loss to Leo Santa Cruz in Vegas but he has to go to another level to win this fight and I believe he will.
"He has been through a tough time but seems to be working very well with Jamie Moore in Manchester and now it is time to go and show that he is right back to his best - maybe he can be even better."
The 86-year-old legendary promoter, who was once named Manager of the Year by the World Boxing Association when his Belfast gym was seemingly a factory for champions, accepts Warrington is on a roll with his confidence sky-high, but believes he has seen the key to victory for the Belfast man.
"I watched Warrington in his fight with Kiko Martinez when he struggled a bit and that wasn't the same Kiko who fought Carl twice so that is significant, but then again he did very well in beating Lee Selby in May to win the title.
"So he has momentum in his career but crucially he is not a big puncher," added Eastwood.
"The secret to victory for Frampton in this fight is his work to the body. If Frampton can take the early rounds by catching Warrington with three and four good shots to the body it will be money in the bank for the latter stages.
"His jab can dictate the fight early on along with some good body punching, and as it goes on, I believe he can come strong and stop Warrington.
"I know some will argue that Warrington has a great engine and he is taller which can be seen as an advantage but clean body shots take their toll on anyone and Frampton has the skill and footwork to slip inside and do the damage.
"If Warrington is to win he has to go forward and try and outwork Frampton, catch the judges eyes with his volume of punches but then he will also leave himself exposed."
Eastwood has seen every great post-war Irish champion and in some cases managed and promoted them. While some would make a case for Rinty Monaghan, John Caldwell, Barry McGuigan or Dave McAuley to be the pick of the bunch, Eastwood believes Frampton can end the debate this evening.
"We've had some very good fighters but the thing about Frampton is that he is the full package.
He can box on the back foot or the front foot.
"He has become a better body puncher and to be a two-time champion at the same weight would be a great achievement and set him apart from the rest," said Eastwood.