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Grounded Carl Frampton rises above the hype - Tiger's Bay background will inspire Jackal in Quigg clash

Bay background will help inspire Jackal

By David Kelly

Carl Frampton will once again stride the world boxing stage next Saturday night and win or lose walk away with a life-changing purse - but he will always simply see himself as the boy from the Bay.

When big rival Scott Quigg is unloading his heavy artillery at the Manchester Arena in their Sky Box Office World super-bantamweight title showdown, the character and resilience that moulded his upbringing will come to the fore allied with his supreme boxing skills.

Tigers Bay and the Midland boxing club gave Frampton his grounding and one day he would enjoy returning to that gym at the end of Cultra Street in order to bring through new champions - just as his coach Billy McKee honed his natural ability from the age of seven.

"The thing that I loved most about growing up in Tigers Bay was the community spirit - there was always a lot of characters, some really funny characters and there was a level of respect that everyone had," said Frampton, who will be making the third defence of his IBF World title in Manchester.

"I loved going out on the street and playing football and even if there was nobody to play with I'd be banging a football against the wall. Nowadays you don't see kids out on the street - I was just saying that to Christine (his wife), they're all indoors playing their Xbox.

"I really enjoyed growing up there and I love going back and the Midland club will always be special to me.

"My mum was the one who brought me down to the club. There was a squad of friends and we wanted to go down and she brought us all down. Boxing seems to be more fun for kids now but back then you were getting shouted at a lot and I didn't like it.

"I loved fighting and the sparring but not the training. I remember a lot of times saying 'I don't want to do this, I don't want to go any more' but I was kind of sent down by my mum.

"You need parents to encourage you and my mum and dad always encouraged me. Sometimes my mum reminds me that she kept me at it. Obviously I'm glad she did because loads of people I was close to went the wrong way and she saw that I had a talent and I was staying off the streets.

"People say that all the time, that it keeps kids off the streets and getting into trouble but it is true - who knows what I would have got up to if I hadn't been in the boxing club.

"Midland was always good banter and I was always small and getting the mickey taken out of me. There were a lot of guys like Cooper McClure, big Chiz, Flash, John English and Keith Dallas who made sure you didn't take yourself too seriously."

Crucial to him going on to become an Ulster and Irish champion was head coach McKee, who remains a very close friend.

"Billy was very protective, he knew I was dedicated and probably gave me a bit more attention. Other guys would come and go but I took it seriously and Billy played a big part of what I am today," added Frampton.

"Billy's straight and he doesn't take any nonsense. He looked after me and fought my corner."

Manager Barry McGuigan took up that particular baton when Frampton turned professional and he has plotted the path to this pay-per-view Quigg showdown, a fight which has generated even more media attention than the Jackal is used to.

While most UK and Irish fighters in recent years have teamed up with either Eddie Hearn or Frank Warren, Frampton chose McGuigan and along the way Cyclone Promotions evolved, a company of which the champion is a part of.

Ever since winning the Commonwealth super-bantamweight title in September 2011 there were murmurings of a clash with Quigg, who would win the British title before his own World success.

"It's a fight the fans and the media have demanded. It's going to be a huge stage for both myself and Quigg. The media attention has been incredible, there's been a lot of work with Sky television because it's pay-per-view - doing promotional videos and various interviews. That's the way it is at this level," added Frampton.

"I had a conference call with the New York Times, Boston Globe and other top American papers so it just emphasises the point that this fight is more than just a big UK battle.

"But at least I have the experience of big demands from the media leading up to my big fights at home but for Quigg this will be completely new and I think it might affect him and get under his skin.

"All the hard sparring is done and now I am counting down to fight night. I've always loved fight week, the hype and everything that surrounds it.

"I know that the best Carl Frampton beats Scott Quigg... and come Sunday I'll have the biggest pavlova ever to celebrate."

Belfast Telegraph


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