Boxing

Carl Frampton is the best Irish boxer ever says Derry ring legend Charlie Nash

Charlie Nash rates Carl Frampton, pictured in action against Leo Santa Cruz during their WBA Super World Featherweight Championship fight at the Barclays Center in New York in July 30, as the best Irish fighter of all time

WE ALL have our opinions over where Carl Frampton stands in the pantheon of Irish fighting greats, but former world title challenger Charlie Nash has no doubt - for him, Frampton is the best fighter Ireland has ever produced.

Derry ring legend Nash - a British and European champion at lightweight - predicts Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Katie Taylor and Jason Quigley will join Belfast’s ‘Jackal’ as world champions, but says Frampton is “the number one”.

He expects Frampton - who left for the US on Monday - to extend his unbeaten record to 24-0 by beating Leo Santa Cruz in their WBA featherweight title rematch in Las Vegas on January 28.

“Without doubt he’s up there,” said Nash.

“If he beats Santa Cruz again - which he probably will - he’s got to be ranked as one of the best of all time coming out of Ireland. Freddie Gilroy and John Caldwell were great fighters in their day. Then you have to ask: What was boxing like in their day? What was the skill like? What was the power like?

“Carl has a bit of everything and I think if he had been boxing then he would have been one of the best as well, so in my eyes I think he’s number one.

“As far as British boxing is concerned, I would say Carl is up there with the likes of Carl Froch and another couple of defences and he’ll be the best pound-for-pound fighter in Britain as well.”

He added: “I think he’s too strong for Santa Cruz.

“He wants the big fights and he knows how to win them. Having Barry and Shane McGuigan behind him is a great help - Barry was a great world champion himself and Shane was a good amateur and he’s a fantastic trainer, he knows exactly how to train Carl.

“But Carl is a quick learner - if you tell him something once, he never forgets it. Without doubt, he’s the best of all time at the minute and I don’t care what happens from now on. I’d rate him as the number one.”

Nash represented Ireland at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and had two wins before losing out to the eventual gold medallist, Poland’s Jan Szczepanski. Barnes, Conlan and Taylor all switched to the pro ranks after last summer’s Rio Games and Nash predicts bright futures for all three.

“Katie has a great future and there’s not than many in women’s boxing with the same skill set, experience or ambition as she has,” he said.

“I think Katie is going to go a long way and Michael Conlan and Paddy were the best in the world as amateurs and there’s no reason in the world why they can’t progress as professionals.

“The were fighting in the World Series of Boxing so they already know how to do five rounds. If you can do five rounds in the WSB there’s no reason why they can’t do 10 or 12. I think both of them - given five or six fights - will be up there challenging for world titles.”

Another up-and-coming talent to catch Nash’s eye is Jason Quigley from across the border in Donegal. Quigley, now based in Los Angeles, has impressed a lot of good judges and looks set to enter the world title shake-up in 2017.

“He’s a fantastic fighter,” said Nash.

“He’s in the right place, he’s getting the best training and the best sparring. He was an Irish champion and did well in international amateur boxing so there’s no reason why he can’t become a world champion too.

“Two or three years down the road I think we’ll have Michael, Paddy, Jason, Katie and Carl all world champions. Boxing at the minute is fantastic, north and south.”

******

Derry boxing legend Charlie Nash took on Jim Watt for the world lightweight title in Glasgow in 1980

March 14, 1980: WBC World lightweight title: Jim Watt v Charlie Nash

CHARLIE NASH dipped to his right and ripped an uppercut through Jim Watt’s guard.

It crashed into the Scot’s jaw and Nash followed it with a lanquid left cross that snapped Watt’s head back. He finished off his salvo with a short right hand. Bang. Bang. Bang. Watt was on his backside less than two minutes into their WBC World title fight.

The Derry supporters in Glasgow’s packed Kelvin Hall roared with delight. Chants of ‘Chaaaar-lie, Chaaaaar-lie’ rang around and Nash looked poised to take Watt’s crown.

The Creggan fighter had proved he belonged at world title level when he beat Ken Buchanan – the Scot who’d tangled with ‘Hands of Stone’ himself Roberto Duran and become a box office draw at Madison Square Garden – in his previous fight to win the European title.

He vacated that belt when Watt offered him a title shot and their showdown was the first time two British boxers had shared a ring in a world title fight since 1949.

With Watt down for a count and a minute left in the opener it seemed only a matter of time before Ireland was celebrating another famous Nash win.

But the durable Scot recovered remarkably quickly and by the end of the round Nash was cut over his left eye and suddenly the pendulum swung the other way.

Watt had the better of the second and third rounds, spearing his jab through the Derry man’s defence. When Nash took the initiative he continued to look dangerous but Watt put him down with a left hook in the fourth and, though Nash fought on bravely, a straight left finished him off and Watt - now a well-known pundit on Sky Sports - retained his title.

The disappointment of that loss must have taken time to get over but almost 37 years on, Nash is still in love with the sport. He has been coaching at Ring ABC in Derry for the past 33 years.

“We were in a tin hut, an old army building, for about 25 years,” he said.

“Then they found out there was asbestos in it so about a year and-a-half ago we moved out into a portacabin and then for about six months we were in a squash court. Now, we’ve got a new club - we just moved in a few weeks ago. It’s a fantastic new boxing club with the best of everything.

“I’m still coaching and I’m the president of the club as well and I’d never give up coaching because I love it and I love see the youngsters coming on and getting better year-by-year.

“We had two young boys down in Dublin there; Pearse Sheridan who a national title at Youth 1 and Kevin Nelson was beat in the final at Youth 2. We’re still producing Irish champions even though we were in a portacabin and a squash court for the last couple of years.

“When you look at where we were to where we are now, the boxers have a great opportunity to do well. We have everything that we need and we’re looking forward to the new season and I’d say that later on in the season the boxers will be really enjoying themselves.”

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