FRAMPTON IN NEED OF SOME HOME COMFORT
By Ciarán Gallagher
THERE are rarely many degrees of separation between fighters in the world of boxing.
Last Saturday night in Nottingham, Belfast’s Carl Frampton featured on the undercard of Carl Froch’s impressive IBF super-middleweight world-title win over Lucian Bute. While Frampton drew the Irish interest to the show, the headliners had another common green connection having both shared a ring with Brian Magee.
Frampton comprehensively defeated something of an unknown quantity in Raul Hirales, a Mexican previously unbeaten in 17 fights (one draw). On the line was the IBF inter-continental super-bantamweight belt, which came with the additional prize of a boost up the rankings.
Looking through those degrees of separation, an interesting comparison can be made between Frampton and Magee.
The pair fight in different weight divisions and are at the opposite ends of their respective careers — Magee is a 41-fight veteran, while Frampton won only his 14th bout. But it is worth looking at Magee’s journey when attempting to chart Frampton’s potential route.
At the same stage Frampton is now at, Magee had fought only four times in Ireland after 14 bouts. A winning streak then led to a few Belfast fights. However, after recovering from a slump, the 36-year-old made his name as a road warrior, recording a number of impressive victories abroad — including British, European and ‘interim’ world title wins — and Magee has only fought twice in Ireland in his past 14 outings.
He is now in line for a shot at the WBA’s ‘regular’ version of the world title, with his representatives recently winning purse bids to stage a fight with champion Karol Balzsay in July.
Although there is a slim hope that it may take place in Belfast, it seems more likely that the bout will be set for Denmark as the boxing-friendly Nordic state potentially offers more revenue.
Frampton has tentatively, but not deliberately, walked a similar path to Magee’s first steps.
He has fought just five times in Ireland so far. Early efforts were made by mentor Barry McGuigan to have him fight at home, staging cards in Belfast, but financial realities put paid to the idea.
The 25-year-old has fought at home once since then and this is not an attempt to dramatise a lack of home opportunities.
It must be stated that his promoter Eddie Hearn has been keen on staging more cards in the Northern city and recently hosted a successful all-Irish Prizefighter. Hearn has also expressed his hopes to put on a September show in Belfast which may feature local talent.
However, last Saturday’s fight was Frampton’s third on the bounce in England.
At the moment, there is a major lack of recognition for his potential here at home. Being on Sky Sports will address that slightly, but fighting across the water comes with the risk that he may end up treading the same path as Magee.
It’s a sad reality that Magee lacks the recognition he deserves. On the night Chisora and Haye disgraced boxing, Magee travelled to Brondy and dispatched home fighter Rudy Markussen – Irish praise was disgracefully minimal.
It has been lucrative for Magee to fight abroad and money should also be the bottom line for Frampton. Financial security is the least a fighter should be comforted by, while there was fantastic exposure through Sky in the UK and Epix in the US last weekend.
However, if Frampton is to become a household name in Ireland like his mentor, that September home date and others will be needed. McGuigan’s most famous win came in London’s Loftus Road, but the groundwork which had made him a national hero in Ireland had seen him fight 20 of his previous 27 fights at home.
Here’s hoping for a Spanish armada arriving in September when Frampton may finally get the chance to sink European champion Kiko Martinez.
*Ciarán Gallagher’s Mail Box column appears every Friday in the Irish Daily Mail, follow on Twitter: @gallagherbox