Boxing champion Carl Frampton talks about his relationship with his legendary manager Barry McGuigan.
Men United has a world champion in its ranks – and his name is Carl Frampton.
On 18 July the Belfast-born IBF super-bantamweight champion maintained his perfect professional record with a unanimous points decision over Alejandro Gonzalez Jr as he made his debut Stateside, in El Paso.
The man known as ‘The Jackal’, who invited fight fans to sign for Men United in the build up to the big fight, overcame a tricky start when he was forced to take a knee twice in the opening round, before fighting back to clinch a gritty points victory.
While Frampton is making people sit up and take notice thanks to an unbeaten run that now stretches to 21 bouts, his manager and mentor Barry McGuigan needs no introduction.
The legendary fighter a former WBA Featherweight world champion himself, took Frampton under his wing when he was still in the amateur ranks and the duo – as well as Barry’s son Jake – have forged an unbreakable relationship since then.
He said: “Boxing is an individual sport so when I first came over here I felt out of place in London and I got very lonely. I was leaving my family at home all the time. I have a young daughter, a new-born son and a wife back home. That’s the hardest part, leaving them. But it makes it a wee bit easier having good people around you. I’m very fortunate to have a good friendly team round me.
“Barry has been amazing. I was at a training camp for the Irish squad and still an amateur at the time, and he phoned me after I’d put the feelers out that I wanted to turn professional. A few other guys then approached me about it, but it was no real decision in the end. Barry was a hero of mine, and a hero of most sports fans back home I had a lot of trust in him and it’s all been justified now. He’s looked after me for the last six years as pro and I’m sitting here as world champion so it’s great.”
And what about the inevitable comparisons between the two?
People are always comparing us but that’s okay, it doesn’t bother me
“I don’t think it’s neither a help nor a hindrance people comparing us to each other,” continued Carl. “Obviously people compare us but we have two very different styles. Barry was an out and out aggressive pressure fighter and he would try and wear you down. He didn’t mind taking a shot to land one of his own. His engine usually got to people; he just outworked them.
“I’m a different fighter. I’m a bit more calculated. I like to box on the back foot, I prefer people to come towards me, so we are very different styles. People are always comparing us but that’s okay, it doesn’t bother me.”
Tenacious inside the ring, Frampton is a cool customer outside the squared circle.
Indeed, just a few weeks before his second title defence, the 28-year-old was named Britain’s Coolest Man by Zoo Magazine, an award presented in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK.
He was quick to suggest investing more money for prostate cancer research as one of his policy points if Prime Minister during a quickfire quiz for the leading lads’ mag, and Frampton also posed in a Brentford shirt given to him by close pal, and Bees midfielder Stuart Dallas, a man who helped him settle into life in London.
“I’ve seen the [man of men] logo on the numbers on the back of the Brentford shirt, and it’s a great way to raise awareness. Of course you want to get that message out there as much as you can and what better way than football. It’s huge. It’s on TV; it’s everywhere,” said Carl.
As for the immediate future, Frampton wants to hold onto his title belt, having worked tirelessly to achieve his goals, and become an idol in his homeland – just like his mentor.
“It’s been hard, obviously. I laced up my first pair of gloves when I was seven years old, so I’ve been involved in boxing for a very, very long time,” he said.
“I knew that I wanted to get to the top and I knew that I wanted to do it quickly, so it’s been hard but it’s all been worth it. I’ve still got a few years left in me to get involved in a few more big fights.
“I want to hold onto it [the title] for as long as possible,” he added. “I want to unify the super bantamweight division as well, and I would like to win a world title in at least one more weight division. But all that stuff is easier said than done. It’s about getting the right fights and it’s about me training hard It’s a short career and it’s about me getting my head down for the next four or five years and pushing on.”
“It sounds big headed but I feel like I want to put Northern Ireland back on the map. You have guys like Rory McIlroy doing it in golf, you’ve footballers in the 80s that were doing it. Dennis Taylor did it in snooker, Alex Higgins and George Best, guys like this. To be mentioned in the same breath as those guys is a huge honour. People back home they support me, they really do. And I appreciate that very much.”
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