There is a lightheartedness about Carl Frampton, an easy predilection for the craic, that disguises the ruthless streak common to most driven boxers, and he knows Scott Quigg will be similarly cold-hearted when they fight in Manchester on Saturday night.
For all that there is respect between the unbeaten super-bantamweights who bring their respective IBF and WBA world title belts to the ring at the MEN Arena, this unification bout has been so long in the making – almost as drawn out as that between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao – that the tension has built to the point where one of them might let emotion override common sense.
Frampton, who turns 28 today and is just eight months older than Quigg, says it will not be him. “I don’t think I’ll have a problem with that,” he says. The fight trade favours him ever so slightly, although Quigg’s second-round stoppage last July of the Spaniard Kiko Martínez, who took Frampton the distance the previous September, eradicated even a scintilla of complacency in the Irishman’s camp.
And he admits Quigg is better than any of his 21 previous opponents, an unexpectedly generous and candid assessment so close to battle, especially given some of their pre-fight exchanges.
“Kiko Martínez was probably my best [previous] opponent. He was on a good run, full of confidence, he’d won a world title, defended it a few times. Chris Avalos was good, a mandatory. But I think Quigg is probably the best opponent so far.”
Was he impressed, then, with Quigg’s quick despatch of Martínez? “He got rid of him early, sure enough. I didn’t expect that, I didn’t think he was going to go over so quickly. He went over, got up and walked on to a shot.”
But that is history, recent though it is. Frampton is concerned now only with the job in hand. “I’ve wanted it for a long time. When I was looking for a British title four years ago, and he wouldn’t allow me to fight for it, that was the first time I really wanted this fight. But looking back, it was probably for the best to let it brew. Both of us are world champions. It’s a much bigger fight.”
Could it turn into an ugly scrap, rather than a boxing match between highly-skilled technicians? “He’ll need to maybe think about that. I’m not daft. I’ve got a good boxing brain. I’m not going to let the hate in the fight get to me. I’m going to do what I have to do to win the fight, whatever it takes. I’ll not let the blood rush to my head. I’ll be cool and calm on the night, and get the job done.”
And, if he gets it done, will he be going back to Belfast to indulge in his favourite sweet, pavlova? “To be honest, I’m a wee bit sick of it. I’ve had ’em after each fight. There’s a lady who makes them for me, Margaret – I can’t remember her surname, Margaret the pavlova lady, I’ll call her. We’ll see.”
This has the ingredients of a minor British classic, but, after a Frampton points win, Margaret is likely to be getting another visit on Sunday morning.
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