Northern Ireland news

First blood to Carl `The Jackal' Frampton as high court judge rules against former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan

Belfast Boxer Carl Frampton attends Belfast High Court with his solicitor John Finucane Picture Mal McCann.

FIRST blood went to Carl `The Jackal' Frampton yesterday when Mr Justice Horner ruled against former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan at Belfast High Court.

It was a significant win for the Tiger's Bay boxer, securing as it does the right to stage the headline fight on home turf - a notional advantage which McGuigan had tried strenuously to deny him.

The Odyssey Arena was dubbed `The Jackal's Den' for his victorious IBF Superbantamweight Championship fight, but it could as well have been applied to the city of his birth.

Four lawyers were ranged in each corner on behalf of the combatants in court.

The ever-dapper Frampton, in a light blue open-necked shirt under a grey summer suit and brown leather shoes, was in court to hear the judgment.

He was supported by his parents, Craig and Flo, all three listening intently from the public gallery as Mr Justice Horner compressed his 30-page ruling into an oration lasting slightly over half an hour.

He had "four ring-binders worth of pages" from the two sides on which to base his decision.

McGuigan and his family, who were arguing that Belfast is `a forum non conveniens' to hear the case, were conspicuously absent from the court.

The seasoned high court judge did not feign obliviousness to the star power involved in this civil case on complicated contract law.

Introducing "Frampton, aka `The Jackal'", Mr Justice Horner detailed how "from his birth, (Tiger’s Bay) has been scarred by sectarian violence" and his "successes in the ring have united a divided and troubled city and country".

The judge acknowledged Frampton had followed in the footsteps of "McGuigan aka The Clones Cyclone", who "years before… had united both sides of a very divided Northern Ireland community when he fought and won the World WBA featherweight title against Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road, London, in 1985 before 27,000 adoring fans and a record television attendance of 18 million viewers".

In a departure from the somewhat laboured judicial language that usually bounces around the wood panelled splendour of Queens Bench One, the judge observed "Frampton and McGuigan have also fallen out big time".

His Honour even gave a shout out to the Co Monaghan man's autobiography `Barry McGuigan: The Untold Story', highlighting that on page 276 "McGuigan himself was live to this obvious conflict of interest if one person acted as both manager and promoter".

He quoted: "One thing that must, simply must be done away with is this crazy situation where a manager can also be a promoter.

"The Board tried to abolish the practice in 1989, but all that happened was that a manger would get a son or a friend or a business associate to be the promoter of record and the whole charade continued exactly as before."

Mr Judge Horner pointed out "no reason has been offered in these proceedings to date as to why McGuigan would not have had this uppermost in his mind when he permitted his son, Blain, to become a director in Cyclone Promotions Limited, which McGuigan alleges was promoting Frampton, a boxer for whom McGuigan was both acting as manager and agent".

Details of the complex web of companies, money transfers and eye-watering declared debts that lie at the core of the legal action called to mind Dickens's infamous `Jarndyce v Jarndyce' case where interminable proceedings ground on until there was no money left to fight over.

Money lies at the heart of Frampton v McGuigan.

The judge said, while "a boxer craves glory", ultimately they "also want to accumulate as much wealth as possible in order to ensure that he can provide for himself and his dependants now and in the future".

He cited former world boxing champion George Foreman's observation: "The question is not at what age I wish to retire, it is at what income."

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