US showcase is Carl Frampton's time to shine says Brian Magee
FOUR years ago almost to the week, Brian Magee’s bid for the interim WBA super-middleweight crown took him to the Costa Rican city of San José.
In preparation for the conditions he would face, Magee jetted out to Panama for ten days’ warm weather training ahead of the bout with Jaime Barboza.
That helped him comfortably out-point the hometown man despite the sizzling heat, claiming the title that he later defended against Rudy Markussen.
“The heat killed me. It’s hard going in that,” recalls Magee, who was 36 at the time.
But while much of the focus in the build-up to Carl Frampton’s bout with Alejandro Gonzalez Jr has centred on whether similar conditions could cause problems for the Tigers Bay man, Magee doesn’t expect Frampton to face the same extremes on the Mexican border.
“The fight’s indoors. When I fought, there was no air conditioning. When you’re away somewhere hot, you’re not really living in that heat.
“You’re training in somewhere air-conditioned, you’re living in somewhere air-conditioned, you’re fighting in somewhere air-conditioned. It’ll not be a problem at all indoors,” says the former world champion.
Since overcoming Kiko Martinez in a brilliant Titanic Quarter display last September, even through his routine win over Chris Avalos, a potential meeting with Scott Quigg has dominated the horizon for Frampton.
But that has been put on the back-burner as he makes a first attempt to crack America this weekend instead. Magee expects that Gonzalez Jr will pose few problems for the 28-year-old.
“I think it’ll be an easy night for him. I think he’ll stop the guy inside five. He’s not inside the top ten and I think it’s a great fight for him to show himself off on American TV for the first time.
“If he can produce a show and stop the guy, it’ll hopefully lead to him getting one of the really big names then.
While expecting a comfortable title defence for Frampton, the Lisburn man emphasises the need for Barry McGuigan’s prize asset to put on a show.
“It’s very important, your first fight [in America]. Everybody’s pushing him and there’ll be people watching to see what he’s all about.
“He’s probably not very well known in America. He’s well known in Ireland but to get him on to the big stage, he has to perform. If it’s bad, it slows everything down for him.”
While negotiations with WBA regular champion Quigg stalled, the carrot that dangles in front of both in the long term is Guillermo Rigondeaux.
The current WBA super-bantamweight champion has struggled to find opponents, with Quigg and Chris Avalos both passing up opportunities to get into the ring with the Cuban.
Magee believes that once Frampton has taken care of business this weekend, there is only one path left for him to travel.
“They’re talking about big fights and there’s a big fight over here with Quigg, but it looks as though McGuigan wants him to go the other way.
“I think we’ll see him in a big fight next. They’re getting to the stage where they’re going to have to start stepping him up in class and matching him with people inside the top ten in the world, and maybe a unification belt at some stage down the line
“He’s just at that stage where he has nowhere else to go but the big fights. He’s the IBF champion with a mandatory challenger every two fights, so that’s where you’ll see him get into good fights. When you have the belt, everybody wants it. It’s exciting times ahead for him.
“I would him against anybody now. I would have fancied Quigg a year ago but Frampton’s come on that well in the last year that I’d fancy him against any of the guys.
“He’d hold his own with Rigo [Rigondeaux], though he has a bit of class about him. Frampton has the fitness and the power, and he’s only hitting his peak now. Now’s his time to shine,” said Magee.