Carl Frampton can't depend on the luck of the fighting Irish

Paul McCloskey catches Amir Khan in their WBA World Light-Welterweight title rumble at the in Manchester in 2011
Andy Watters

SOME of the luck of the fighting Irish in Manchester seems to have been used up by Tommy Waite back in 2000.

Cairn Lodge ABC stylist Waite was plucked from relative obscurity to face Ady Lewis for the Commonwealth and British titles at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in 2000.

The Belfast bantam was hanging in there when an accidental clash of heads left local boy Lewis with a nasty cut and the fight was waved off leaving Waite the new champion.

Of course Waite might well have mounted a comeback to win it his own way, we’ll never know for sure, but he certainly got the rub of the green that night.

The same can’t be said for Ireland’s most recent Manchester challenger Paul McCloskey who took on Amir Khan back in 2011 for the WBA World light-welterweight title.

There was another head clash – but this time it was the Irish fighter who was unable to continue and, despite protests from McCloskey, John Breen and promoter Barry Hearn, Khan was awarded a shut-out points win.

McCloskey had travelled to Manchester to take on the Olympic Games star with a 22-0 record and held the British and EBU super-lightweight titles. His preparations went to plan and on the night he had absolute focus on doing what he was there to do – take Khan’s world title.

“My preparation was 100 per cent,” said ‘Dudey’.

“I did everything I could do as a boxer and I felt great. I came into the arena and the support I got made me feel 10-foot tall.

“But to be honest I was that zoned into the fight, I had tunnel vision and you don’t get to enjoy it, the fighter doesn’t enjoy the night because he’s there to do a job and you want to get that job done.

“Your mind is just completely in overdrive or it should be, everybody’s different. If you are there to do a job you should be in a different zone entirely. You won’t be seeing that arena or seeing that crowd, it’ll just be tunnel-vision going in the walk to the ring to do your job.

“Looking back I can remember a few things but when you’re there you have to be totally switched on.

“It gives me a lot of pleasure to hear people say that was the best night of their life.

“People have said to me that it was the best night they’ve ever had out, an event that I was involved in, and that gives me a lot of pleasure. For me I was there to win a world title so it was the biggest night of my career.”

Looking back he wishes he’d gone for it earlier – he’d have preferred to have been carried out on his shield rather than stopped after the head clash.

“The only thing I would do different is go in for the kill a lot quicker,” he said.

“The plan was working perfectly in my opinion because Khan is what I call a greyhound boxer, he comes flying out of the blocks but he can’t sustain that for 12 rounds, he doesn’t have endurance.

“If you watch any fight he ever struggled in after that or before, it’s always late on.

“The first four-to-six rounds he’s out of blocks and he’s quick and he’ll get a lead but after that – whether it’s making weight or stamina – but he definitely does falter as the fight goes on. I knew I had a chance in the second half of that fight, I had a good engine and I could always finish strong so I knew I had a chance if I had got that far.

“It’s ifs, buts and maybes and that’s life. You can’t let it eat away at you, I let it eat away at my for a while, but life goes on and you try and stay positive and go on with something else.”


PAUL McCloskey has Frampton winning in Manchester, but warns that Quigg is capable of tearing up the script on fight night.

If it was down to pure boxing ability there’d only be one winner for ‘Dudey’ but he says one punch could sway the fight either way.

“As the fight gets closer you could sway each way,” he said.

“I think Carl is a better boxer, he has every department covered but as the fight gets closer, and if you’re looking at the recent performances, you have to say that Quigg has a chance.

“At the end of the day Quigg is a world champion, he’s unbeaten and the way he dispatched Kiko (Martinez) that time he definitely has a chance.

“I think Carl has him covered on natural ability, skill, movement and technique but that doesn’t guarantee you the victory in the fight. It’s about on the night – one punch can make it sway at any time. “A good punch could turn it.”

McCloskey doesn’t see the fight going the distance and again he doesn’t dismiss Quigg chances.

“If it’s a boxing match and it’s down to boxing skills Carl beats him ok,” he said.

“But Quigg is a good boxer and a good body puncher, he’s resilient, he has a high workrate, his fitness is unreal. So is Carl’s, but to me it’s a very evenly matched fight but if you were putting a gun to my head I’d say ‘Frampton definitely’.

“I think he’s all-round a better boxer and I could see him winning on points but I could also see him winning by a knockout.

“You could look at Quigg winning by a knockout too the way he went in his last fight, and I think it’s going to be such an explosive night with the whole build-up I don’t think it’s going to go 12 rounds.

“I think there’ll be a stoppage for Carl and it might by late – but then again, once punch and it could be a first round knockout.”

The Irish in Manchester

Tommy Waite v Ady Lewis

(September 9, 2000: Commonwealth and British bantamweight titles)

BELFAST bantam Tommy Waite won the Commonwealth and British titles when he took a TKO decision to dethrone local boy Lewis at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre.

Gerry Storey-trained Waite went into the fight with a 10-2 record and the 1994 Commonwealth Games star shipped some punishment until a clash of heads resulted in Lewis picking up a nasty gash over his right eye.

Referee Mark Green waved it off and Waite celebrated with the titles, however he lost both to Nicky Booth in his next fight.

Paul McCloskey v Amir Khan

(April 16, 2011: WBA World light-welterweight title)

McCLOSKEY’S gameplan was to stay out of trouble for the first half of the fight and then come on strong late on.

The Dungiven fighter was picked of for six rounds but was gamely hanging in there when the pair went toe-to-toe and clashed heads as Khan tried to land a right hand. They both stopped and the referee intervened and the fight was then stopped because of a cut to McCloskey's left eye.

McCloskey was well within his rights to demand a rematch but Khan would have none of it. At the post-fight press conference he said: “He didn't win one round. I was hurting him, I wasn't tired, and I promise you if it had gone two more rounds he would have been knocked out. There is no point in a rematch.”

Eamonn Magee v Ricky Hatton

(June 1, 2002: WBU light-welterweight title)

WHAT an atmosphere, what a night and what a start to the fight.

Magee, who had just missed seconds before, landed a short right hook that put Hatton on his backside for the first time in his career 41 seconds into the first round.

Hatton was quickly back on his feet and Magee elected not to try and finish it with a hell-for-leather barrage. Although the Belfast man continued his good start in the second, ‘The Hitman’ recovered and dominated the middle rounds and was ahead on points going into the 12th.

“You’ve got to win this last round,” urged John Breen in Magee’s corner.

“One round to go, knock him out, knock him out.”

Billy Graham told Hatton: “Don’t go crazy now, you just want to win this round and that’s it.”

Hatton, who was in excellent shape and bouncing with energy, finished stronger and took a unanimous points win.



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