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Be careful what you wish for Eddie – Frampton without his rag can be lethal

Eddie Hearn wasn’t questioning Carl Frampton’s stature as a style icon when he said ‘He is not the ‘Coolest Man in Britain’ anymore’.

Nor was he indicating that, as the year came to an end, so did ‘The Jackal’s’ reign as ZOO’s Coolest Man in Britain.

What the ‘smirking’ Matchroom boss was trying to suggest when speaking on the final leg of last November’s press tour to officially announce the eagerly anticipated Frampton versus Quigg World title fight, was that the IBF super bantamweight champion was struggling to keep his emotions in check months out from the fight.

The Belfast star all but admitted Hearn, a promoter he used to work with, makes his skin crawl, but Hearn indicates that both he and Frampton’s February 27th opponent have gotten under the champion’s aforementioned body casing.

It’s a theme that Team Quigg keep pushing. Indeed, since the fight has been made they have asked more questions of Frampton’s temperament than Chris Tarrant did general knowledge questions throughout his ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ career.

They raise the issue with the same frequency as Floyd Mayweather’s hand is raised in victory, while constantly pointing out how calm Bury’s Quigg remains.

Hearn plays panto villain in Belfast
Hearn plays panto villain in Belfast

There is no doubt at this stage it’s a preconceived tactic and one they feel will prove beneficial, as if when the bell first rings in Manchester on February 27th Frampton will be nothing but an emotional shipwreck ripe for Scott Quigg to sink.

Quigg, Hearn, and Joe Gallagher seem to think a riled and discontent Frampton provides them with an advantage ahead of the Manchester hosted Sky PPV fight.

However, if you study your Frampton history there is more to suggest otherwise.

He has been somewhat combative verbally and in terms of body language, but to suggest ‘Frampton has lost his rag’ is an overstatement.

However, when someone takes Frampton’s rag away he can be lethal – and that seems to be something Team Quigg seem to have overlooked.

If you take Frampton’s worst performances, they have all been away from home and on the back of performances that had given him a somewhat invincible air.

Robbie Turley for instance played out in Wales and came at a time when the then-young Belfast fighter may have just started to believe the hype.

The bout was won, but was scrappy and the performance didn’t overly impress Sky and their pundits at the time. It was a clash Frampton learned a lot from and while there were no excuses made at the time, the fight has been referenced when ‘things done wrong’ in fight week has been mentioned since.

It was similar situation in Texas just last year. Alejandro Gonzalez had ‘The Jackal Army’ fearing defeat for the first time when he acquainted the IBF World champion with the canvas for the first and second time in his career in the first round of a World title defeat.

Out pointing Gonzalez last time out
Out pointing Gonzalez last time out

Just as Scott Quigg was stopping Kiko Martinez, Frampton had recovered and was outboxing the Mexican en route to a comfortable points win. But again the Cyclone Promotions star admitted things didn’t go to plan in fight week and. coming off the back of the Chris Avalos blow-out, honestly suggested he overlooked the challenge that faced him.

They were eye-of-the-ball moments and moments were the Tigers Bay native hadn’t the eye of the Tiger.

Now while Frampton is as genuine and laid back as they get for the most part, come fight week in Belfast he gets a glint in his eye. Beauty starts to become the beast and Jekyll starts to dominate Hyde.

carl frampton v scott  quigg 2

He becomes more competitive, aggressive, and even mischievous in nature. It’s clear he feeds off the crowd like tree roots feed of rain and uses that energy to blossom in the ring. At times it seems like the build up and atmosphere in fight week is a planed part of the camp, as vital to his preparation as sparring.

Throw in a something to prove element and a cocky, forthright or opinionated opponent and you see Frampton grow into a gladiator itching for battle  during a time when some can wilt and go into themselves come make weight time.

That kind of Frampton is the most dangerous, but yet it’s the kind of Frampton that Team Quigg are trying to create. They could be creating an undefeatable monster, at the very least they are making sure the IBF super bantamweight ring king is at the very top of his game.

Eye of the Tiger time!
Eye of the Tiger time!

Eddie Hearn, who will get some love when he brings Ryan Burnett to Belfast in April, Gallagher, and Quigg may be hoping that an upset Frampton might go on the front foot in temper and produce a Chris Avalos kind of display, in the hope they can land big early.

California’s Avalos came to Belfast and didn’t check-in a massive reputation through customs, but, along with his team, played the panto villain to perfection. As fight week progressed, insults exchanged and old predictions shared you could see ‘The Jackal’ begin to relish the chance to punish the mandatory challenger. He certainly delivered on his promise to make Avalos eat his words with a destructive performance.

However if Frampton loses his rag he doesn’t always go frantic in his search for it. The Shane McGuigan fighter can be disgruntled and calm in delivering retribution. Kiko Martinez got under the Belfast fighters skin just as much as Avalos did. The press conferences had a similar tension, had more verbal blows than Gatti-Ward Round 9 had real ones and, while they both have respect for each other now, there was genuine bad blood in the build up.

Yet Frampton didn’t come out as this aggressive monste,r rather he played matador to the Spanish bull. The monster created this time relished frustrating, toying with and inflicting a different kind of damage on Martinez in European and World title bouts.

The three aforementioned performances probably go down as Frampton’s best and before all three he had the demeanour that Team Quigg are now trying to highlight as a weakness. Indeed they are trying to feed the monster maybe unaware an upset Frampton can be calm and callous not just fiery and fierce .

It would be hard to recreate a Turley or Gonzalez Jr performance, especially considering how many eyes are turned on what could be the biggest fight outside of America this year, but it seems smart to try and pacify the undefeated puncher to some degree.

Walking through Avalos
Walking through Avalos

A big part of creating developing that ‘eye of the tiger’ for a fighter, who most outside the casual would admit is more technically gifted than his Bury foe, would be the Belfast crowd.

Like the two bouts previously mentioned, which were not disastrously poor yet didn’t live up to Frampton expectations, this fight is outside the current capital of Irish boxing.

However, ‘what about ya big man’, ‘catch yerself on’ and ‘I’m blocked’ will be more prevalent than any Manchester dialect in the city come fight week. There is set to be an Irish invasion and Manchester will become a home away from home for the 28 year old champion.

And if we are using the trips to Texas and Cardiff as negative examples it must be pointed out that there was no real fan furore surrounding either of his opponents on both occasions.

It’s quite possible that Frampton could feed of negative fan energy the way he does positive fan vibes.

Hearn and co might be right November may have been a bit early to be getting tetchy, but Frampton fans will recognise symptoms in that tetchiness that have, on every single occasion, been signs that a sensational performance is brewing.

Team Quigg should be careful what they wish for!


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