Tributes pour in for Carl Frampton after boxing hero retires following Dubai defeat
TRIBUTES have poured for Carl Frampton after the Belfast boxing hero announced his retirement following a weekend defeat in Dubai.
The former two-weight world champion, who hails from north Belfast's Tiger's Bay area, has been praised for bringing together fans from across the north during a glittering career.
Frampton (34) was beaten by US fighter Jamel Herring in a WBO super-featherweight clash on Saturday.
Speaking in the ring following the bout, which lasted six rounds, the emotional father-of-two said he had always planned to hang up his gloves if he lost.
"That's exactly what I'm going to do," he said before paying tribute to his late mentor Billy McKee, founder of the Midland Amateur Boxing Club, who died earlier this year.
Frampton also thanked his wife Christine and young children for their support throughout his career.
"I just want to go home to my beautiful wife and kids and dedicate my life to them," he said, earning applause from the Dubai audience.
The gracious athlete praised his opponent, saying he had "zero excuses" for the loss.
"I had an amazing camp; I was coming into this fight to win it, but I was just beat by the better man."
Among the first to praise the Belfast fighter, who was aiming to become Ireland's first three-weight world champion, was his opponent.
"Yes, this probably the biggest victory of my career, but I just want for everyone to pray and show love for @RealCFrampton," Jamel Herring tweeted.
"I'll always be a fan, and he's a true gentleman. God bless you, my man. Please make it home safely to your beautiful family."
Former WBC heavyweight champion and British boxing icon Frank Bruno said in a post: "Carl accepted defeat with grace & dignity. He is now retiring to spend quality time with his family. Happy retirement Carl."
Comedian and TV presenter Patrick Kielty thanked the Belfast man for "dreaming big, winning bigger".
"And bringing us all on the ride. For wearing the biggest heart on your sleeve. And never forgetting people at home. Winners don't always look out for underdogs. But champions do. It's why you'll always be ours. Take a bow."
Stormont politicians also praised for the way he had represented the north on the global sporting stage.
DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockheart tweeted that Carl has "always done Northern Ireland proud", describing him as a "superb fighter who never forgot where he came from".
West Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey, himself a former boxer, said in a post: "Sorry to see Carl Frampton end his illustrious career tonight in this fashion. To his absolute credit he showed what a champion he has been by showing such good grace towards Herring."
SDLP Mid Ulster councillor Malachy Quinn said: "Sad end for Carl Frampton, not what he deserved but will go down as one of our greatest fighters. Gave us some unbelievable nights."