Fight Club: Carl Frampton eyes up Leo Santa Cruz bout

Andy Lewis 28/02/2016
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Ulster uppercut: Carl Frampton lands the fourth round shot which broke Scott Quigg’s jaw.

Scott Quigg’s physical pain will ease – but the mental scars of his world super-bantamweight unification defeat to Carl Frampton on Saturday night could stay with him a lot longer.

Northern Irishman Frampton added Quigg’s WBA title to his own IBF belt having got the nod courtesy of 116-112 counts in his favour by two judges, with the other giving the bout to his opponent 115-113.

That third card was inexplicably generous to Quigg whose inertia through the first half of the fight rendered his late rally inconsequential. Rumours abounded in the build-up that the Bury fighter would stand off Frampton in an attempt to coax aggression – and mistakes – rather than press and back himself in a shootout.

If that was indeed the gameplan then it backfired spectacularly – and at the cost of the overall spectacle – as the Jackal refused to take the bait, instead staying just busy enough to pinch the rounds and build a commanding lead.

In his corner Quigg had Joe Gallagher, the recently-crowned Ring Magazine Trainer of the Year, but he took far too long to spell out the gravity of the situation and by the time he articulated the size of the deficit to a visibly-shocked Quigg, he already needed a knockout.

He went in search of one, finally upping the pace, letting his hands go and attacking the body.

And just like that, the 10th and 11th rounds became a microcosm of the all-action affair so eagerly anticipated beforehand.

Had Quigg come alive earlier, he might just have won, and that’s why the agony of a broken jaw revealed in the aftermath could pale in comparison to the anguish caused by a head full of regrets.

Peppered by body shots, Frampton was then staggered in the penultimate session by a huge right to the head, but battled back to craftily weave his way through the 12th and earn a deserved victory. Quigg was close to tears.

“It is absolutely killing me inside, but I’ll be back,” he said. “As soon as I can get back in the gym, I’ll be putting the work in and I’ll make sure it will never happen again. Maybe I left it too late.”

For Frampton, who was vindicated in his belief that his superior skills would prove the difference, it is on to bigger and better things either as a super-bantamweight or with a move up to featherweight.

The WBA, who own his newly-acquired slice of gold, have already mandated he face Guillermo Rigondeaux, the 35-year-old Cuban double Olympic gold medallist, who is 16-0 as a professional.

Despite his supreme ability, ‘Rigo’ struggles to generate interest in his fights, largely because of his defensive style. It’s a dangerous assignment for Frampton and his promoter, Barry McGuigan, is well aware the risk outweighs the reward. Instead, his man is likely to chase a showdown with Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz, the WBC champion. Both Frampton and Santa Cruz have advisory deals with Al Haymon’s PBC stable so in theory in shouldn’t be hard to make.

“We need to step it up to the next level,” said McGuigan. “The money fight is Santa Cruz. The difference between him and Scott is that Scott was unsure and just didn’t want to throw as he was so apprehensive because he was being hit hard. Santa Cruz does let go and it would be a fabulous fight.”

Frampton added: “It is very appealing. I think Santa Cruz could do super-bantam, but if I have to go to featherweight… I wouldn’t go to featherweight for a no-mark but he obviously is a big name.”

For Quigg, his rival’s antipathy towards a Rigondeaux showdown may open the door for him to face the Cuban. His old WBA title could even be on offer if the entirely realistic scenario of Frampton being stripped unfolds.

A rematch, however, was naturally the first thing on his mind.

“Obviously it is the fight I want,” said Quigg. “The guy has just beaten me and I 100 per cent believe I can beat him, having been in there and been comfortable, then put it on him like I did in the last bit.”

Unfortunately for Quigg, the demand to see it again will be minimal, and he’ll be left to mull what might have been.

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Frampton beats Quigg to unify IBF and WBA belts

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Frampton enjoys his win.

Northern Irishman Frampton added Bury-born Quigg’s WBA title to his own IBF belt having got the nod courtesy of 116-112 counts in his favour by two judges, with the other giving the bout to his opponent 115-113.

Frampton had looked well in control for much of a contest that was failing to live up to the hype that had preceded it, until Quigg started making more of an impression as it developed into a decent battle in the final few rounds.

Frampton told BBC Radio 5 Live afterwards: “I did what I had to do to make it easy for myself.

“I couldn’t believe what was going on when I heard the split decision – I felt I was a comfortable winner – but it’s onwards and upwards for me now.

“I knew it was going to be a tactical fight all along and a bit timid but you have to do what it takes to win.

“I’m not going to rush into silly punches. You have to be smart. I was and I got the win.”

The much-anticipated bout in front of a cacophonous 20,000 sell-out crowd marked the climax of a rivalry which had been brewing for several years between two fighters who both went into it with undefeated records.

And Frampton, 29, added: “I’m proud to have beaten a very good fighter. There’s a lot of history between our teams but he was a worthy champion.”

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Happy Birthday – Floyd Mayweather, Lleyton Hewitt, Mohammad Sami

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Happy Birthday to Floyd Mayweather, Lleyton Hewitt and Mohammad Sami.

One of the best pound-for-pound fighters of this generation, Mayweather’s combination of speed, power, and technical prowess were the hallmarks of a successful career.

Born on this day, 39 years ago, the five-division world champion remained undefeated as a professional winning all his 49 bouts, including 26 knockouts. He has won 12 world titles and the lineal championship in four different weight classes.

A divisive character whose love for the riches earned him the nickname ‘Money’, Mayweather raked in the millions and was the top earning sportsperson in the world between 2012 and 2015 according to Forbes. His career earnings are estimated to be around $700m. He announced his retirement after defeating fellow American Andre Berto on September 12, 2015.

1940: Denis Law, former Scotland forward who played for both Manchester United and City (76).

1955: Alain Prost, French motorsport legend and fourtime Formula One champion (61).

1981: Lleyton Hewitt, Australian former world number one and 2002 Wimbledon champion (35).

1981: Mohammad Sami, Pakistan fast bowler who has played in 36 Tests and 87 ODIs (35).

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