How Jamie Moore dragged me out of sulky abyss and back to world title fights: Frampton
Only those closest to Carl Frampton will know just how low he reached in the first nine months of 2017 but what is certain is the role played by coach Jamie Moore in helping to drag him out of the abyss within which he found himself.
As Frampton approaches Saturday night's battle with IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington in the Manchester Arena he can reflect on a period when it seemed matters were simply going from bad to worse before a new dawn with Moore brought some much needed light.
It was a long, sullen journey home from Las Vegas after losing his WBA World featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz, six months after having taken it from the Mexican.
That was followed by months of wondering when he would return to the ring before a summer fight with Mexican Andres Gutierrez was scuppered at 24 hours notice. Then came the split with former manager Barry McGuigan and his Cyclone Promotions outfit.
Frampton had to clear his head and start again. The process started in earnest while on a short break in Las Vegas when taking in the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather spectacle.
"Carl called me from Vegas and said he wanted to chat and the weird thing is my wife had actually suggested it to me and I had laughed it off and then the call came," said coach Moore.
It didn't take long for the two men to gel and Frampton's thoughts, which had been tangled in a web of despondency, began to take hold of a more positive horizon.
"It was a tough time, I was very low after the loss to Santa Cruz and I remember even being a bit off, a bit sulky and childish even with my wife Christine because I was just so fed up and disappointed with losing the title," said Frampton, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph. "I hated boxing. I couldn't wait until it was over but teaming up with Jamie has helped me massively - mentally I've been in a much better place. I'm enjoying the sport more than ever and Jamie has played a big part in that.
"Whether or not that could have happened with another coach I couldn't be sure to be honest. I came to him at a low point but his approach to training and also what Nigel Travis his assistant brings to the gym has helped me enormously.
"Also, Jamie has the same values as me, he's a family man and he understands what is more important in life. He helped me get the balance back in my life. He understands that I need to go home at weekends to be with my family and he has seen that it helps me perform better in the gym.
"Our backgrounds are similar, he has a wife and two kids, as a former fighter himself he understands what I go through and our characters are similar because we don't take ourselves too seriously - we can have a laugh in the gym and still get the work done.
"That's why I feel now that I'm a fighter in my prime. I'm 31 and I've never enjoyed boxing more. I feel that I'm still improving and at this point I'm better than ever."
Champion Warrington, while insisting he does not believe Frampton is long past his best, says he is not convinced the Belfast man has the same fire in his belly as he once had when winning world titles at super-bantamweight and featherweight.
"He says he's had a good camp and he's had a laugh and that in the gym, but when it comes to the later rounds when you're in there and your arms are full of lactic acid and you've gone beyond the physical state and you're in the mental state, you're looking for anything to push you on. I think he won't have that any more," said Warrington, who took the IBF title in May from Welshman Lee Selby.
"He says he's the best he's felt, but you can't go off the last couple of fights he's had and compare them with the fights I've had. No disrespect to Nonito Donaire because he's been a world champion and an elite boxer, but he is past his best. With Luke Jackson, I don't think he'd beat Dennis Ceylan, who I beat before the Lee Selby fight - so you've got to compare our last two fights.
"It was two years ago he boxed Santa Cruz. You can't say that in his last couple of fights he's still at that level. He won't know himself until Saturday. He can try to convince himself, but I've come off the big win and I'm still at that level."