I'll prove my desire is as strong as ever, vows Carl Frampton
Carl Frampton cannot help offering an irritated shake of the head when hearing the suggestion that the fire in his gut for battle has diminished. It has been a constant theme emanating from the camp of IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington throughout the week in Manchester.
The 31-year-old Belfast man will be entering his 10th year as a professional boxer in just over a week's time and insists he will do so as a two-time featherweight champion, with victory over Warrington in their battle at the Manchester Arena tonight.
Naturally, the champion believes otherwise and he along with dad Sean O'Hagan are pointing to the critical element of desire when the ring temperature reaches boiling point. Frampton simply reflects on his formative years in Tigers Bay and how they fuelled the desire to be the champion he would become - and seeks to be once more.
Beyond the smiles and the natural quick wit is a deep, selfish, unbridled ambition to achieve. It took him to world super-bantamweight and featherweight glory, through the maelstrom of hyperbole when facing Scott Quigg, the drama of a weight-drained victory over the late Alejandro Gonzalez in El Paso and out of the darkness of defeat at the hands of Leo Santa Cruz.
"Warrington can say what he likes, he knows nothing about me, he doesn't know me. Winning this title means so much to me, I've had to wait two years for another world title opportunity and there's not a cat in hell's chance he will deny me," said Frampton.
"I don't forget the times when Christine and I were just going out as teenagers and she had to lend me the money from her university grant for a taxi home because I didn't have it, or the first time when I went to the Manchester Arena and couldn't afford the flight so I got the coach - which turned out to be a nightmare trip - to see Paul McCloskey's fight against Amir Khan.
"Growing up in Tigers Bay I learned certain values, to show respect and not to get too big for your boots and it bred the desire in me to be the best I could and then with having a family it just makes you want to fight even harder.
"I remember in the fight with Alejandro Gonzalez when I went down twice in the first round. You talk about desire and character, that was when I showed what I am about.
"I remember looking out of the ropes at Christine and my dad and thinking, 'Right, pull yourself together and get this done'.
"That same desire and hunger is still there, I can assure you. There are people I want to stick the two fingers up to, those who have written me off, and I can do that by winning this title."
The last time Frampton stepped out onto the Manchester Arena stage was the night he unified the super-bantamweight titles with victory over Scott Quigg on the back of bitter verbal exchanges and a bizarre slanging match between both camps over dressing rooms.
This week has been much more civil by comparison.
"It genuinely didn't bother me but I knew it was really annoying Quigg because he's very superstitious. I'd have got changed in the toilet. It worked out well in the end, we got the changing room we wanted. That was funny," said Frampton, who has received good luck messages from fellow Northern Ireland heroes David Healy and Rory McIlroy ahead of a fight which can lead to more unification battles in 2019.
"This is my livelihood, this is security for my family. There is so much riding on this so if I was fighting my best friend I would want to knock him out. It's the exact same with Josh Warrington. I don't have to hate him.
"So in no way am I underestimating what Warrington will bring to the fight.
"I think his work rate is good but he hasn't got a Leo Santa Cruz work rate, sometimes he goes on the back foot.
"He has a good, strong mental attitude but he's been in against guys who aren't as good as me. Lets see how mentally strong he is in the fight, we will find out.
"Probably if the fight goes to the halfway stage then they'll think that is where I'm supposed to fade off and die. It happened to me personally before when I fought Kiko (Martinez) the first time.
"Everyone was saying, 'In the first four rounds he will come, be very aggressive, throw lots of shots, and then he will fade'.
"I knocked him out in the eighth round and I was thinking, 'When is he going to tire?' It's going to be interesting to see how Warrington copes with that."
The 28-year-old champion insists his own desire is unbreakable, which suggests a duel to match the high expectations with Frampton ultimately triumphing on points.