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Carl Frampton's on top of the world after masterclass

By David Kelly

The super-bantamweight division's contenders must today wrestle with the question of how do you conquer a man who has all the solutions to any puzzle you may put his way. Carl Frampton is the 5ft 5' colossus of the 122lb division - and a unique Northern Ireland sporting hero.

At the end of his 12-round tussle with Scott Quigg who was supposed to be his hardest challenger Frampton had left two people in tears - the man from Bury who headed to hospital with a broken jaw allied to a shredded heart and wife Christine whose relief at the announcement of the decision was there for all to see.

She wasn't the only one holding her breath as there was collective gasp of disbelief when legendary MC Michael Buffer announced the first score of 115-13 in favour of Quigg from judge Levi Martinez. That was replaced by unbridled joy from the Frampton support among the 19,000 in the Manchester Arena.

The Jackal was now the IBF and WBA World super-bantamweight champion of the world after a battle which only caught fire in the second half but was always in the Belfast man's control - whether it was outboxing Quigg in the early rounds or standing at close quarters and matching him body shot for body shot, making his rival wince from a sweetly timed double left in the latter stages.

On this emotional, atmospheric night Frampton still took time to walk down the corridor and console his beaten opponent who admitted the Belfast man had broken his jaw with a vicious right uppercut in the fourth round. As the unified champion - the first Irish fighter to achieve such a feat - made his way to the media room, a tearful Quigg made his exit from the arena which had only a couple of hours before rocked to their war of attrition.

"I would have been the same, a defeat is hard to take. This is a hard game, when you put so much into this game," said Frampton.

"For someone like Scott who's so dedicated, he may struggle to deal with that. He's very strong minded and I hope he comes back because there's big fights out there for him.

"I'm happy to have a re-match if the public demand it but to be honest I would rather move on because there are other options. It wasn't a split decision and it shouldn't have been a split decision, I don't know what that guy was looking at.

"To be honest I knew that it was going to start off as a bit of a boring fight and that's how it played out but of course you can't say that because it's a pay-per-view fight and nobody would buy it. So, I knew it was going to be very technical for the first six rounds and then it opened up a bit in the second half.

"He came on a bit at the end but I thought I won the first seven rounds doing very little. I was surprised by their tactics because he was never going to outbox me. I did get a fright when I heard the first score but I thought 'there's no way two of them got it wrong'. I felt comfortable in their the whole time. He hits hard but he never hurt me.

"Shane was giving me the right instructions and every time I landed early on I could hear him shouting 'don't get greedy, no more than three shots and then get out'.

"I felt pressure before the fight but I didn't feel there was more pressure. I'm used to pressure, when they go and build a stadium for you back home and you're fighting a guy you've already knocked out (Kiko Martinez) and the public just expect you to turn up and win, that's real pressure."

Frampton's stock has just gone to another level in not just the boxing world but right across UK sport after this clinical, masterful performance when he wiped away any doubts over his chin which had risen after the hysterical reaction to the two knockdowns he suffered in El Paso last summer.

Not only was he being hailed by those fans in Manchester and many watching on Sky Box Office, but also by two A list celebrities Stateside. "Daniel Day Lewis and Liam Neeson told Barry they would be watching the fight in America on Showtime. To have two men like that telling you they're making sure they see it on TV is just crazy," added Frampton. "And Rory McIlroy won a bet with Wayne Rooney who was in Quigg's changing room before the fight."

Frampton had marched to the ring flanked by Northern Ireland heroes Gareth McAuley, Josh Magennis, Stuart Dallas and Kyle Lafferty who held his IBF belt while their national manager Michael O'Neill sat ringside on what proved to be one of the great nights in the history of Northern Ireland sport.

"It was great to have the boys there to walk me out and these are guys that I look up to. Stuarty Dallas was playing Irish League football four years ago and now he's going to the Euros, it's unbelievable. Maybe I've got the ball rolling now and the boys can take that into the Euros and do something magical and get out of their group."

For now, Frampton says he is just looking forward to switching off his phone, eating "some real food" and spending time with wife Christine and their children after his long disciplined training camp in London.

He deserves nothing less for giving the whole of Northern Ireland a night for the ages.

Belfast Telegraph


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