Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Rejuvenated Jackal is ready for war


By David Kelly

It was the morning after the night before and Paddy Barnes walked in to Carl Frampton's suite at the MGM Grand Las Vegas and with a single expletive summed up his close friend's performance.

The Jackal didn't disagree and for the best part of the subsequent 10 months matters relating to his boxing career did not greatly improve.

The parting of the ways from manager Barry McGuigan and the Cyclone Promotions outfit has been well documented and now Frampton feels it is time to place a full stop on that particular issue, starting with an impressive victory over tough Mexican Horacio Garcia over 10 rounds in the SSE Arena.

The Jackal's Den has always been a happy hunting ground for Frampton and as he returns to that stage for the first time since one of his most impressive displays, defeating American Chris Avalos in the first defence of his IBF super-bantamweight title in February 2015, he insists he has the demeanour of a man back in love with boxing.

That, he admits, was not always the case over the past couple of years with thoughts of the finishing line for his career often to the forefront of his mind.

"When I see how much I'm enjoying training now in Manchester with Jamie Moore and the lads in the gym, just everything around the sport it brought it home to me just how unhappy I was," said Frampton.

"It has also made me realise how much I have to thank my wife Christine for getting me through.

"She has noticed a big difference in me and even people who I don't really know have come up to me and said they can see a difference.

"For a long time I would have been on the phone from London every night to Christine moaning about how much I hated boxing and how I couldn't wait to earn enough money so I could retire and it got to the point where it seemed to be the same conversation every night.

"I was complaining about how much I wasn't enjoying the sport and she was having to listen to this, it was like she was a 24/7 counsellor for me.

"I'm sure there were times when she must have just felt like telling me to belt up, but she was patient and now I've come out the other side and I'm feeling re-energised.

"There's no talk of retirement and it's all about wanting to have big fights and retiring on a high, and not just because I have earned enough money to retire.

"The difference in my whole demeanour, in the gym and just going about life generally is a lot different to what it had been over the past 18 months to two years. Boxing is the hardest game in the world when you're enjoying yourself so when you're not enjoying yourself it's even tougher."

Frampton directs praise towards new coach Jamie Moore for the enjoyment he's now gleaning from training in Manchester, where he works alongside fellow Northern Ireland men Conrad Cummings and unbeaten light-heavyweight prospect Steven Ward, who is on tonight's exciting bill.

"His approach to training has been good for me. We have some really hard graft days and some easier days when we drill tactics. You're still breaking a sweat because mentally it's very intense, working on technique but the camp has not been as hard on my body," added Frampton.

"I feel like I have added two years to my shelf life as a fighter after going with Jamie. I finished off this camp with 10 rounds with two different guys and I flew through it.

"I really feel refreshed and rejuvenated."

For Mexican Garcia, it is the opportunity to transform his career and the 27-year-old says he will be inspired by his fellow countryman, boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez who will be at ringside this evening in the cauldron-like SSE Arena.

"Having Canelo supporting me is great motivation. We started out together and have seen each other climb up.

"It's very important to me that he is coming out to watch my fight because that will help me," said Garcia.

"I'm going to leave everything in the ring and it will be a great fight.

"Carl is a great fighter. He's been in the sport for a long time.

"To beat him will put me on top of the rankings and people will remember me as one of the guys who beat Carl Frampton."

Should that be the case, the days of the Jackal in the ring will be numbered.

But the Belfast man has had enough disappointments this year.

It's time to once again inject some joy into his career with a performance to remind every one just why he was voted the World Boxer of the Year for 2016.

Belfast Telegraph

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