Carl Frampton “The new Barry McGuigan” ready for Kings Hall Debut

boxingBy Brendan Galbraith - Twenty-five years ago this week Barry McGuigan stormed to World Championship glory ending Eusebio Pedroza’s seven year reign as champion in an epic night in front of 26,000 at Loftus Road and a global audience of millions. Symbolically, McGuigan returns to the scene of so many of his famous victories, the iconic bastion of prize fighting – Kings Hall in Belfast, this time with his explosive Irish boxing talent – Belfast man, Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton (5-0) who makes his home debut as a pro.

McGuigan who holds British and Irish promoter and manager licences is guiding Belfast man Frampton’s fledgling pro career and as revealed by the Clones Cyclone at Monday’s media workout at the Holy Family Boxing Club in Belfast, McGuigan will return to Belfast in the autumn to promote his first show.

There are high hopes for The Jackal, as McGuigan is in no doubt that his fighter is going all the way to World Title glory and revered Irish trainer Gerry Storey, who has trained so many Irish greats over the years including McGuigan, Neil Sinclair and Hugh Russell, is unequivocal in his assessment of Frampton:

“I have handled most of the fighters that we have had coming up in the past including Barry and the rest of them. And this will be the best that we have had coming along. This will be the new McGuigan. As far as I am concerned he is the best that we have had since Barry was packing the Ulster Hall and the Kings Hall”.

McGuigan nods with approval and adds: “He punches harder than I did”.

Frampton is a decorated amateur winning multiple Irish Senior Titles (his first Irish Senior win as a 16 year old), Multi Nations and was a silver medallist in the EU – losing a competitive final to his French opponent who was also an eventual Olympic silver medallist.

Of course there is no direct causal link between success as an amateur and success in the pro ranks, so what convinces McGuigan and Storey that they have a potential world-beater?

McGuigan, also a renowned boxing commentator, launches into a typically fluent boxing critique, but with a twist, as this analysis and supporting anecdotes is unmistakeably laced with genuine excitement of Frampton’s boxing credentials:

“Every time I watch this kid in the gym he gets better and better. He gets embarrassed sometimes when I talk about him, but it is the quality he has. It is not just about being able to bang, which is almost a prerequisite when you are a professional fighter. That is why a lot of the amateurs don’t make it as a pro because they don’t carry the old wallop.”

“This kid has got power, but he has got intelligence too. He boxes with intelligence, he backs off and fights coming forward and every time I see him he gets better and better.

“We are not going to see Frampton at his best until people really try against him – that’s when you will really see him. When you start a fight with him, he suddenly becomes an amazing kid.”

“Gerry Storey is doing a diamond job with him. Gerry thrives on speed. Everything is speed. Fighting is all about speed. If somebody can’t hit you then that is what it is about, and hitting a guy before he hits you. And he has got that speed - he has got that explosiveness. He has really got it – I am telling you.”

Storey agrees: “He is a great puncher, good listener, dedicated trainer. This kid will go all the way.”


Frampton’s opponent, Ian Bailey (5-4) is a tough and durable opponent who recently extended another exciting prospect, Liam Walsh, the full scheduled six rounds. So, this match-up will be an interesting yardstick for Frampton’s development.

McGuigan enthused:

“I know that McCloskey is top of the bill against Lauri, but this [Frampton v Bailey] could be the fight of the night because this guy comes and fights and comes and attacks you. That’s what I want.”

“Bailey has only been stopped once and it was through a hand injury, it was up in Liverpool against Nick MacDonald, and the corner retired him, so he is a really tough guy. He has just gone six rounds with Ryan Walsh and he is a really tough guy, hands up high and he walks you down.”

“We hope that this guy will do that. He is absolutely not a journeyman, he is tough and he is well prepared – he was ready as a substitute at the Prize-fighter – so he is in shape. They are coming here to win – so this is not an easy fight – this is not a journeyman type of fight. I think with the combinations of styles (Frampton v Bailey) – you are in for a treat on Friday night.”

Frampton eagerly awaiting his professional bow in the Kings Hall:

“I have been looking forward to it for about ten weeks now and I am ready to go now and I am as fit as I have ever been in my life. I was meant to fight four weeks ago but it was called off, so I am ready for this fight – it is only a 6 rounder, I have had 10 or 11 weeks hard training so I am flying.”

Frampton has had top quality sparring in preparation of his fight with Bailey, completing 30 rounds in ten days with Ian Napa, Mick Coveney, Bradley Evans and Choi Tseveenpurev.

The sparring session heavy-handed Frampton and ‘the Mongolian Warrior’ Choi Tseveenpurev was an event that I was keen to learn more about an I asked Frampton how it went:

“It was a great spar. Choi is such a feared boxer in Britain, as no one will box him. He was telling me that in his third fight in Korea – he boxed an ex-world champion, so he has a great record and he probably boxed no journeymen on that record. Choi was the hardest puncher I have ever been in with, but he didn’t stun me or anything and I gave as good as I got with him.

McGuigan interrupts:

“No, no let’s get this right. You didn’t give as good as you got - you dominated him. You dominated him. For the first three rounds you figured him. He is very clever, he is a switch hitter and he moves down. He is quick. He is much quicker than you think and is strong. He sparred in a fourteen square foot ring. I said hold your feet in the centre and give yourself room to get back. It was so exciting – the whole gym stopped.”

“That really excites me as an ex-fighter. To see everybody stopping. Stop punching the bag and they all come around the ring – it is hairs on the back of the neck stuff. I know this kid has got so much talent – I just want him to get out and keep doing it and I want to see fellas testing him. It is easy to get carried away and sound bombastic and bigheaded. It is difficult not to get excited when you watch him.”

McGuigan and Frampton were at ringside for the recent Prizefighter – The Super bantamweights, were they cheered on Willie Casey in his brilliant victory.

So, would McGuigan consider emulating Casey’s Prizefighter success by entering Frampton in the tournament?

“Definitely. Carl trounced him as an amateur, he dropped him. You tell him Carl?

Frampton, who McGuigan describes as “a nice kid – he is not cocky or arrogant”, takes a deep breath before he chooses his words, perhaps not wishing to be bashful:

“I boxed Casey. I sparred him loads of times. Willie and me are good friends. I boxed him at a club show in the Crusaders Club and won the fight very comfortably so if that fight ever came around it wouldn’t worry me too much.”

McGuigan added:

“We are not concerned about that at all. The super bantamweight division is pretty hot at the moment. We have got the Hyland kid, Willie Casey, but I believe I have got the best super bantamweight in the country – in the four nations – lets be politically correct (McGuigan laughs).”

McGuigan is keen to keep Frampton busy:

“We hope to get him out in the autumn and we are going to be getting him out in the autumn and we are looking forward to exciting times as this kid is going to be special. He is learning all the time and he getting good sparring and when the time comes we will set up camp and bring in even better sparring partners.

McGuigan is planning to run his own show in Belfast in the autumn with Frampton featuring on the bill but would not be drawn on further details, commenting on his planned Belfast promotion McGuigan added with a twinkle in his eyes:

“It will be in the autumn. It’s vague but that’s the way we are going to keep it for the time being.”

As Frampton counts down the days until he takes his place in the centre of the ring in the famous Balmoral venue both trainer and manager are hoping that Frampton can generate a similar cross-community support that was the hallmark of McGuigan’s reign as contender and champion. The rousing echoes of ‘Barree! Barree!’ and ‘Here we go! Here we go! Here we goooo!’ that reverberated around the Kings Hall when McGuigan was wearing down opponents and landing his signature left hook body punches are vivid experiences for anyone that was at those great shows.

It takes a special kind of fighter to command that level of support and veteran trainer Gerry Storey is confident that Frampton is from the same vein as McGuigan:

“When we get the support, the Belfast support behind this kid, the way they did with Barry, and believe me – he is in the same mould. I would love to have all the support that they gave me when we had Barry in the amateur game right into the pro game – from all sections of Belfast – get them behind Frampton.”

McGuigan has successfully brought, not only all sections of Belfast together to support his fighting career, both sides of the Irish Sea and concluded:

“This kid is a modern Northern Ireland kid, he is a great guy – he was on the Irish High Performance team. He is a superb talent. He is just self-assured, full of confidence, we do respect them (his opponents) but we have no fear for any of them”.

The McCloskey-Lauri bill will be shown on Sky Sports TV on Friday night, hopefully this time, Frampton’s fight will be shown on their television coverage.

The proposed card for Friday 11th June 2010 at the Kings Hall, Belfast is:

Paul McCloskey (20-0) v Giuseppe Lauri (50-6) EBU Light Welterweight Title
Stephen Haughian (18-1-1) v Kevin McIntyre (27-7) Celtic Welterweight Title
Jason Cook (26-3-1) v Charlie King (16-2) Lightweight
Carl Frampton (5-0) v Ian Bailey (5-4) Super bantamweight
Harry Matthews (9-0) v Ciaran Healy (10-15-1) Middleweight
Kris Carslaw (9-2) v Joe Rea (7-1-1) Light Middleweight
Luis Garcia (6-0) v Nathan King (12-16) Light Heavyweight
Andy Murray (19-0) v TBA
Ryan Brawley (16-0) v TBA
Jamie Conlan (2-0) v TBA

The Yanjing Beer Fight Night will be live on Sky Sports and tickets priced Ł30, Ł60 and Ł90 are available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets. Contact Ticketmaster 0844 8472455 (0818 719300 from ROI), Box Office 01277 359900, Julie 07745698372, Francie 07803282224.

Brendan Galbraith can be contacted at

Article posted on 10.06.2010

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