Experiences of El Paso will see Frampton through Quigg bout
SOME sports events grab you more than others. For the last week or more, I’ve found the build-up to the super-bantamweight world title showdown between Carl Frampton-Scott Quigg compulsive viewing.
The promotion for next Saturday’s bout has gone into overdrive on Sky Sports via their on-demand service. From the behind-the-scenes Media Tour, to each fighter’s best ring moments, to the popular The Gloves Are Off show, every fight fan will be hoping their February 27 meeting in Manchester lives up to the engaging build-up.
The reason why this particular match-up is so intriguing is because a compelling case can be constructed for both men to win. Before the fight was made, Frampton, with some justification, was deemed the better man. But as the bout draws ever closer, it’s becoming more difficult to separate the pair.
Perhaps that’s Sky’s design: to entice the floating pay-per-view customer. Despite the posturing and politicking that threatened to keep Frampton and Quigg apart, common sense has finally seeped into the equation. Regardless of who is the more popular fighter, Quigg needs Frampton just as much as Frampton needs Quigg.
And no-one can discount the crucial role Kiko Martinez has played. Frampton fought the battle-hardened Spaniard and former world champion twice and beat him twice, while Quigg demolished him in two rounds. For both Frampton and Quigg, fighting Martinez was a necessary step to propel them onto the lofty stage they find themselves on.
Martinez was Frampton and Quigg’s ‘Juan Laporte’ moment. Just as Laporte did for Barry McGuigan, beating Martinez bestowed more credibility on Frampton and Quigg among the boxing public.
It’s no secret there is a degree of acrimony between the two camps. When the fight couldn’t be made last year, Frampton found himself in the uncomfortable environs of El Paso, Texas fighting on an afternoon small-hall show against a young, dangerous Mexican called Alejandro Gonzalez jr, who had a poker-like jab and was as durable as leather.
Frampton suffered two flash knock-downs in a disastrous first round before showing a big heart and no amount of skill to beat Gonzalez on points. In his post-match interview, with the adrenaline still pumping through his veins, Frampton talked openly about his pre-fight weight issues and insisted it was time to move up a weight.
Before the Gonzalez face-off, there was talk of Frampton conquering America. When the dust settled, that giddy idea was quietly shelved and everyone was left pondering the same question: What was El Paso all about?
On the same night, in Manchester, Scott Quigg’s baby face was being reddened by the come-forward Martinez before the Bury man landed a right uppercut in the second round that led to the Spaniard’s devastating capitulation. At the risk of being slightly begrudging towards Quigg, perhaps Martinez had been softened up after two wars with Frampton.
Seven months on from their contrasting experiences in El Paso and Manchester, Frampton and Quigg will finally share the same ring. So who will have their hand raised in Manchester next Saturday night?
There’s no doubt Frampton is the better all-round boxer and has more ring craft. Although Quigg’s trainer Joe Gallagher refuses to publicly accept it, his man has less skill than Frampton. But skill isn’t always the defining factor in the ring.
Quigg is a heavier hitter than Frampton and a ruthless finisher. He’s also an excellent body puncher. He has the power to stop Frampton. From Frampton’s perspective, he’s made a big play in the build-up of his ability to adapt during fights. In his two bouts with Martinez, he boxed on the back foot and countered superbly at times.
Although the first round evidence from El Paso may contradict the point, Frampton has a good chin. In their first bout, Martinez landed the perfect left hook in the seventh round, but Frampton absorbed it and managed to fire back immediately.
Frampton persuasively argues Quigg can’t adapt during fights; that he only knows one way and that’s to come forward. And he’s right. But with respectable power in both hands, it doesn’t make Quigg any less dangerous.
Moreover, while Frampton can box off the back foot he’s not the most elusive. For all his crude advances, Martinez still managed to breach Frampton’s defences - and Quigg isn’t as crude as the Spaniard on the front foot. Quigg will be particularly dangerous in the first three rounds. But even if Frampton negotiates the anticipated early onslaught, Quigg will continue to hunt him down.
The simple analysis of next Saturday’s world title fight is that it can only end in two ways: Quigg stops Frampton - or Frampton wins on points. But don’t rule out a late stoppage for Frampton as it might be the only way to quell Quigg.
Frampton, undoubtedly, has a deeper appreciation of the sweet science. Boxing fans would need to travel far and wide to see a more accurate, cleaner puncher than the Tiger’s Bay man. His timing with both hands is impeccable.
Experiences in the ring count too. Frampton has come through tougher experiences than Quigg. Although he had weight issues in the final few days leading up to the Gonzalez fight, Frampton showed incredible resolve, fitness and skill to come through.
El Paso almost derailed Frampton’s career. But what doesn’t break you, makes you. It’s exactly because of those hard experiences in El Paso that ‘the Jackal’ will have his arm raised in Manchester next Saturday night.