Northern Ireland news

Carl Frampton-Barry McGuigan relationship became 'toxic' gym manager tells court

Carl Frampton at Belfast High Court amid the ongoing legal battle with his former manager Barry McGuigan.Picture by Pacemaker Press.

CARL Frampton's ex-trainer Shane McGuigan allegedly told a boxing associate that he was "finished" and had only one fight left in him, the High Court was told yesterday.

A judge also heard the atmosphere between the former world champion, his coach and manager Barry McGuigan in their final days working together was "toxic".

The manager at a gym where the fighter completed preparations for hometown shows in Belfast claimed Shane McGuigan said if Mr Frampton ever retired and then made a comeback he would not be training a "bum".

Paul Johnston made the allegations as he gave evidence in the multi-million pound courtroom showdown between the boxing stars.

Mr Frampton (33) is suing Barry McGuigan for alleged withheld earnings during their eight-year partnership.

His action involves claims against Cyclone Promotions UK Ltd - of which Mr McGuigan was a director - over purse fees, broadcasting rights, ticket sales and merchandising.

A counter lawsuit has been filed against the boxer, accusing him of breach of contract when he split from the company in 2017.

Both men deny the respective allegations against him.

The court heard Mr Frampton used Monkstown Boxing Club in Co Antrim for final training before fights staged in Belfast.

Mr Johnston, project manager at the gym, said on previous occasions they were "a tight unit".

But he claimed there was a completely different atmosphere in July 2017 when they used the facilities to prepare for an ill-fated fight against Andres Gutierrez.

The contest was ultimately called off when the Mexican slipped and injured himself in the shower on the eve of the bout.

Recalling events that week, Mr Johnston claimed: "There was a tangible, what I would say breakdown in the relationship. It seemed to be quite toxic."

Barry McGuigan was not present as often while Shane - his son and Mr Frampton's trainer - showed little interest in the fighter, he alleged.

He told Mr Justice Huddleston how it contrasted to previous occasions when the fighter and trainer were "almost joined at the hip".

"The camp wasn't happy, there was definitely an air of grievance or unhappiness with Carl, he wasn't a happy fighter."

He set out an alleged conversation with Shane McGuigan in his office on the day of the weigh-in.

"Shane started to talk quite negatively about Carl, about his future," the boxing club manager said.

"He said that he was finished, he said that at best he had one more fight in him, and that he didn't really want Carl (to) retire, spend his money and come back, that he wasn't going to train a bum essentially."

Asked by Gavin Millar QC, for Mr Frampton, his opinion on the alleged comments, he replied: "I was very concerned. This came from Carl's trainer, and somebody who was going to be in his corner the following night."

Liam McCollum QC, representing Barry McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions, put it to him that Mr Frampton had already decided to leave the organisation before the Gutierrez fight.

"That would definitely impact on his attitude to what was going on," he said.

"If someone decided they are going to part company with the team it's going to affect the way they perform, and have a negative impact."

He insisted Barry McGuigan had been at the gym and spoke to the fighter on friendly terms, while Mr Frampton was the one being distant.

But Mr Johnston replied: "I would suggest Carl shadowboxing in a ring, sitting on a bike making weight, he was doing what he was meant to be doing as a professional fighter.

"I think other people, and how they treated him was more different that what Carl was being."

Turning to the alleged conversation with Shane McGuigan on the day of the weigh-in, Mr McCollum contended that any discussions took place earlier that week.

"He accepts that he wasn't entirely happy with the way he (Mr Frampton) was training.

"He thought his mind was elsewhere, and he said something to you like 'he looks sloppy, his body has been there but his head isn't there', in other words his head wasn't in the game.

"He said that if he wasn't going to commit to camp, his mind wasn't going to be there, what was the point of training him."

Mr Johnston answered: "No, he said that he had one or two fights left in him, and that he wasn't going to train somebody who was a has-been essentially."

However, counsel insisted Shane McGuigan had no memory of making any such comments, nor was it his view.

The case was adjourned to next month.

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