Belfast Telegraph

Ban the four-letter word and don't believe Sky's 'hype'

By Billy Weir

There is a four-letter word that sporting authorities should stamp out forthwith to save us all from completely losing the run of ourselves.

No, it's not some of the ones you are thinking, and shame on you for thinking such things, the word is 'hype' and in my Big Boy's Book of Words it is accompanied by a picture of two boxers and a small army of assorted managers, trainers, hangers-on and n'er do wells.

And so it came to pass again this week as Carl 'The Jackal' Frampton took on Scott 'The No Nickname' Quigg for the World super-bantamweight title unification get together at the Manchester Arena.

This was to be pay-per-view on Sky Sports thus they weren't exactly shy in the build-up to Saturday night's showdown to brainwash us into throwing our money at the TV with gay abandon.

So Sky Sports News followed them every step of the way, public training sessions, press conference, weigh-in and, as is the way, it all got very nasty and heated with both boxers threatening to do all sorts of awful things to each other.

The way things were going a fight was going to break out, although come Saturday it took about seven rounds for that to actually happen, but the biggest row in the run up to the bout was who got the bigger dressing room, with all sorts of finger-pointing and name-calling before some sanity prevailed.

Or so we thought as, after surgery to open my wallet, the pay-per-view pounds were prised out and as I tuned in a caption saying 'Scott Quigg's Dressing Room' came up on screen only for Frampton to appear.

Thankfully a bit more hype appeared to distract everyone as we were told 'two undefeated warriors collide in a battle for the ages', the winner presumably getting two belts and a lovely dressing room. They may as well have had Gok Wan fighting Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen on the undercard. It was a long wait until the main event of the evening, meaning lots of chat, Sky's team in two camps, Ed Robinson joined by Glenn McCrory by the ring and briefly by Johnny Nelson before the latter suddenly took to his heels with a cameraman in tow, saying he was off to join the A-Team.

He then joined Carl Froch and Amir Khan on a plinth, probably fashioned from a couple of old doors and a chest of drawers they happened to find in a deserted garage beside the Arena that just happened to have a welder in it, but with no sign of Mr T, who probably missed the plane.

Two of the many who didn't were Mr AP and James Nesbitt, both flying the flag for Northern Ireland, although the latter was clearly taken over by the heady atmosphere, bedecked in green and white football shirt and completely and utterly patriotic. How McCoy must have wished he'd given the ticket to his brother, Tony, instead.

Commentator Nick Halling was almost as excited as the travelling hordes as the clock ticked down, stating this was 'an epic saga of a fight that nearly didn't happen' and, in fairness, he could have said the same after the 12th round.

When ring announcer Michael Buffer appeared you knew it was time for the talking to stop and the shouting to start and, with the vibrations of his 'let's get ready to rumbbbbbbllleee' still reverberating around the Arena, we were off.

Only someone forgot to tell Quigg, probably still pre-occupied with trying to think of a nickname and wondering if Barry McGuigan was running amok in his dressing room while his back was turned. By now, though, hype was not needed, the truth could be told, it wasn't very good for the casual observer, Halling calling the opening stages a 'phoney war' while co-commentator Jim Watt said that 'we're seeing a fencing match at the moment'.

To be honest it was only the sight of a very excited man hopping up and down in a green shirt like Kermit the Frog on a space hopper that was keeping me from nodding off at this stage, with Halling admitting that 'we're not compiling much of a highlights reel so far'.

Quigg finally got the message that, although it was pay-per-view, he was allowed to throw the odd punch and not just watch and, for the last few rounds, it actually became interesting. When I say rounds, I mean the bits in between the sit down and saucy lady walking about holding up a big number - and not what any actor in attendance may or may not have been doing in the build-up.

And aptly then came drama, one judge clearly getting cold feet by giving Quigg the verdict, a very lucky man if you ask me and just as well he went missing soon after as several men called Murphy were about to take the law into their own hands.

But after a moment of agony there was to be five minutes of heaven as the Jackal didn't have to hide and, approaching midnight, he became the man who rules the world of the little people preoccupied with ringcraft.

So with the belts safely tucked away, vast sums of cash accumulated and all well with the world, it was safe then for both camps to forget that they had been threatening to do all manner of nastiness to each other for days, hugs and kisses all round and invites into the dressing room.

"Where does Carl Frampton go from here?" asked Robinson.

"The pub if I was him," replied McCrory. "Belfast is going to be buzzing," he added, but not as much as a few heads were on Sunday morning.

Belfast Telegraph


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