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Carl Frampton on way back to summit, says coach Shane McGuigan

Frampton ready for next chapter in his glittering career

By David Kelly

Carl Frampton has been to the mountain top and coach Shane McGuigan says he will quickly leave the foothills behind to once more rule the World featherweight division.

McGuigan left Las Vegas feeling deeply frustrated in January after witnessing Frampton dethroned by Mexican rival Leo Santa Cruz, the man from whom he had taken the WBA World featherweight title six months earlier in Brooklyn.

Together he and Frampton had enjoyed World title success at super-bantamweight and then featherweight, the Jackal's rise culminating in the American boxing writers along with the prestigious Ring magazine voting him the 2016 fighter of the year.

At 30 years of age, it is no secret that the Belfast man is entering the last chapter of a glittering career and McGuigan is eager to see a polished performance against Mexican Andres Gutierrez in Belfast's SSE Arena as victory should lead to a World title showdown with IBF featherweight title holder Lee Selby before Christmas.

"I would be concerned if we don't see a good performance on Saturday night because there's no point being in this business to just go through the motions, he needs to keep making a statement," said McGuigan.

"The day he doesn't feel like he's the best fighter in the world is the day I'm going to tell him to pack it in but he does feel like he's the best fighter in the featherweight division.

"His ego took a knock with the loss to Santa Cruz and we kind of got mugged off. He got outboxed by a pressure fighter. That was partly my fault, partly his but we'll come again and Saturday night is the next chapter of his career and I'm excited about it because we can see the finish line. It's like running the marathon and we're at the 20-mile mark and there's six miles to go. The legs are a bit heavy but we're going to finish strong with four or five big wins.

"Of course, you don't know how Carl is going to react after his first defeat, it's one thing doing it in the gym and another doing it in the ring. One thing about Carl is that he nearly always shows up, he's only ever had an off-night against Welshman Robbie Turley early on in his career and then against Santa Cruz he was at 80 per cent.

"When you go into camp you have eight bad days and two good and then by the end you have nine good and one bad and we had that one bad night in Las Vegas but Carl still showed the mark of the man by only losing on a majority points decision. Now he's ready to go again."

Frampton compounded that belief when at yesterday's press conference in the Europa Hotel, the two-weight world champion declared: "Gutierrez will be up for this, he has more knockouts than I have wins but this is my city and I'm the boss.

"The SSE Arena generates an atmosphere that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world, even in the bigger arenas."

While McGuigan is anticipating a refreshed fighter eager to show the world that he remains a true force at the highest level, he did admit that it took a little longer than usual for the Jackal to start firing on all cylinders ahead of tomorrow night's WBC World title eliminator.

McGuigan said: "He had the biggest lay-off of his career and when he came back he probably felt a little hard done by losing on a majority decision and then having to start again to work his way back, but in the last month the sparring got easier and the drive was there.

"It feels like the old days when we were calling out the big names and having the fights with the likes of Kiko Martinez and Chris Avalos.

"He's dedicated 23 years of his life to boxing and we want him to have a great finish to his career and there's still a lot he can improve on.

"It's an exciting time but first he has to get the job done on Saturday night against an opponent whose style should suit Carl, who I believe is a level above."

Belfast Telegraph


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