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Comment: Only closing chapters of Carl Frampton's career will determine whether break-up was worth the hassle



Rising star: Barry McGuigan and Carl Frampton ahead of the Jackal’s first Belfast bout in 2010. Photo: William Cherry/Presseye

Rising star: Barry McGuigan and Carl Frampton ahead of the Jackal’s first Belfast bout in 2010. Photo: William Cherry/Presseye

©INPHO/Presseye/William Cherry

Rising star: Barry McGuigan and Carl Frampton ahead of the Jackal’s first Belfast bout in 2010. Photo: William Cherry/Presseye

Until Carl Frampton pens his autobiography, he won't know for certain why his relationship with the McGuigan family ran into the sand.

Frampton has always struck me as a grounded individual. He knows how indebted he is to Barry McGuigan for taking a punt on him and to Barry's son Shane for moulding him into the champion fighter he became.

There was nothing in Frampton's amateur career to suggest that one day he would become the first professional boxer from Northern Ireland to secure World titles at two different weights.

Granted Frampton won a couple of Irish elite titles at fly and featherweight respectively in 2005 and 2009 and secured a silver medal at the 2007 European Championships, but overall his amateur career was underwhelming.

"I didn't always do what I was told. I'm far more dedicated now. It was just better for me personally to be training by myself. I can be easily influenced and do the wrong thing," said Frampton in an interview published in the book 'Punching Above Their Weight: the Irish Olympic Boxing Story'.

Obviously Frampton had the raw talent and he flourished under the watchful eyes of McGuigan junior and senior.

And the relationship was mutually beneficial. The success of the Jackal's career was the catalyst for other boxers to link up with McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions company and be trained by Shane.

The high point came on a sultry night in Brooklyn in the summer of last year when Frampton beat the undefeated Mexican Leo Santa Cruz on points to secure the WBA World featherweight belt which his manager Barry held 30 years previously.

The statistics from the fight are fascinating. According to Compu Box stats, Frampton landed 242 of the 668 punches he threw - a 36% return - while Cruz only managed to connect with 255 of the 1,002 blows he threw (25%).

But just as McGuigan surrendered his WBA crown in Las Vegas in 1986, the same fate befell his prodigy in the Nevada desert in January.

The Frampton-McGuigan camp fell for a classic double bluff in the rematch.

Santa Cruz and his father Jose - who is his trainer and advisor - repeatedly stated in the run-in to the Las Vegas clash that the talented Mexican would change his style. A natural all-action fighter, Santa Cruz assured everyone that he would change his style and concentrate on being a boxer rather than a fighter.

The Frampton-McGuigan camp simply didn't believe him. Shane suggested that even if Santa Cruz wanted to change his style, it was unlikely he would be able to.

It was a reasonable assumption given leopards won't change their spots.

The problem was that Santa Cruz did precisely what he said he would do and caught Frampton off guard.

Again, the statistics compiled by Compu Box are revealing. Frampton only landed 133 of his 592 punches thrown (22%) while Santa Cruz landed 230 of his 884 thrown (265) and deservedly got the decision on a majority verdict.

Unlike professional footballers, boxers have months to stew over defeats. Perhaps on reflection, Frampton felt that he relied too much on his trainer's judgment in deciding his tactics.

Frampton could have had a rematch against Santa Cruz this summer had he agreed to travel again to Las Vegas.

But the Jackal had made a solemn promise to his fans that his next fight would be in his home city - preferably at Windsor Park.

Then came the whole fiasco surrounding the recent cancelled Andres Gutierrez fight, which probably put the relationship under intolerable strain.

Frampton knows that he is nearing the end of what has been a marvellous professional career.

But only the swansong to his career will determine whether the hassle which this break-up will inevitably cause will ultimately prove worthwhile.

Belfast Telegraph