By Paul Gibson- follow Paul on Twitter @BallsofWrath
read more of Paul’s work- Luke Keeler: The Life of a Prospect – The Jamie Conlan Experience- Before, During and After the fight
Scott Quigg is a nice guy. The number of fighters, managers, promoters and pundits to preface an opinion on the Bury boxer with a comment on his affability means that, despite having never met the man, I take his genuine pleasantness as read.
Pronouncements of his niceness from rival camps are, of course, more often than not a polite proviso rather than an unalloyed compliment. Something along the lines of, Scott’s a great guy, inevitably followed by, but I’ll knock him out or he’s not in my class, is par for the course.
But in the boxing press, the good egg line is actually very rarely a sheepish qualification of a more damning passage on the fighter in question. Put simply, nice boxers get an easier ride off those paid to fill the column inches.
If you want proof of that, just look at the vast majority of reporting on the two biggest names in the sport over the past decade, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Now imagine that their personalities were switched and the Filipino is the brash, arrogant, woman-beater while his American foe leads the apparently respectful, humble, family-man life.
In such a parallel universe the annals of boxing history would almost certainly adopt a very different hue. Manny would become just another good fighter with five losses and a whiff of PED use following him around. Floyd meanwhile would be an unbeaten pound for pound genius to be mentioned in the same breath as the Sugar Rays.
This is all human nature of course. Even with the best of intentions, subjectivity tends to triumph over objectivity. It is simply much easier to deliver harsh critiques of assholes than it is one of life’s good guys. But here goes nothing…
Scott Quigg is wandering hopelessly lost within the realms of fantasy if he truly believes he deserves a fifty-fifty split of the loot should he enter the ring against Carl Frampton. Yet, following his three round victory over unheralded Belgian bantamweight Stephane Jamoye last weekend, that is exactly what the Bury man and his promoter Eddie Hearn have demanded.
Their fallacy begins with the perpetuation of the myth that Quigg is a genuine world champion. Even by the standards of the multiple paper-belt era we live in today, the legitimacy of that claim is tenuous at best.
Guillermo Rigondeaux is the undisputed WBA super bantamweight champion of the world, full stop. But back in 2012, the WBA took it upon itself to manufacture an interim title and let Quigg and Rendall Munroe battle for the honour. Then, aware that Rigo was the most avoided boxer in the sport, they decided to elevate the Cuban to super (duper?) champion status and told Quigg he was now a regular champion, whatever that means.
Overnight, what had been a bog standard fringe title suddenly became open to interpretation. Who can blame Team Quigg for going right ahead and interpreting it as a legitimate world title? Certainly not the good old WBA who, hungry for the revenue that extra title fights and sanctioning fees provide, happily encouraged the whole charade.
IBF super bantamweight titlist Frampton, on the other hand, is, alongside Rigo and Leo Santa Cruz, a bona fide world champion. An honour he assumed by beating one of the division’s other true world level operators, Kiko Martínez. Mentioning Kiko’s class brings us to another point that must be pertinent within the negotiations: the calibre of opponent both have faced.
The two men continue to boast unbeaten records, although Quigg does have two draws and two knockdowns against his name. The greater disparity between them lies with who they have faced. Frampton’s foes have entered the ring with an average of 15.4 wins and 3.7 losses, while Quigg’s boast much less favourable averages of only 13.4 wins and an incredible 14.1 losses.
Only two fighters have touched gloves with both boxers: Yuriy Voronin and Gavin Reid. Voronin took Quigg six rounds before, two bouts later, he was knocked out in the third by Frampton. Reid lasted nine stanzas with Quigg but, in his very next fight, Frampton stopped him inside three. Granted, that is not a huge pool of data to analyse: but the only possible conclusion that can be drawn is that, when they’ve been given a similar challenge, Carl has handled it much easier than Scott.
Rate of career progression is another marker by which to compare the merits and worth of two fighters. The above mentioned Reid was the 19th bout of Quigg’s professional career while Frampton faced the Scot in just his eighth outing. Voronin was opponent number 16 for Quigg but only number seven for Frampton. For a little more perspective, the Northern Irishman’s 16th fight was a slightly tougher assignment: a first match-up with future world champion, Kiko Martínez.
The point to be taken here is that, comparing their two records to date, Frampton has had the greater success, while performing to a higher standard, against a better calibre of opponent, much earlier along his career path. Though he began his journey more than two years after his domestic rival, in truth, Frampton has always been a step or two ahead of the Englishman.
Nevertheless, boxing is, and always has been, as much a business as it is a sport and it is therefore necessary to consider that murky side of things in any squabbles over who deserves the biggest piece of the pie.
Whatever way you look at it, Frampton is far and away the bigger draw of the two. This could be because Belfast is bigger than Bury. Or Northern Irish fans have less world class fighters to choose from than their northern English counterparts. Or maybe Frampton is a higher quality and more exciting performer. It doesn’t really matter. The why is not important in this particular debate. It is all about bums on seats and neither Barry McGuigan nor Eddie Hearn could give a monkeys how they get there.
Quigg was fully correct when he stated that this particular fight would be massive because of the involvement of both men. But that is not really the point either. Every fight Frampton is involved in is massive now regardless of opponent. More than 1,500 attend the Jackal’s weigh-ins and they have to purposely build 16,000 seater arenas for him to fight in. To say that neither is true of Quigg is the understatement of the year.
Frampton is on record as saying, “the only man I want is Scott Quigg.” Want being the operative word in that statement. Carl wants Scott. But Scott needs Carl. It is a subtle difference, but one that can be readily turned into dollars and cents in any negotiation room.
Hearn knows all of this of course. You can tell by reading between the lines of his words or analysing his actions. The one ace he had up his sleeve was Quigg’s contract with Sky Sports being able to guarantee a much bigger television audience (and potential PPV revenue if the bout gets hyped to the rafters) than Frampton could via his deal with Boxnation.
But that Boxnation deal ended with the recent Martínez fight and Cyclone Promotions are now free to play the field and sign with another channel should they wish. Hearn is fast running out of reasons to be cheerful and it is possible to sense a hint of panic fomenting beneath his standard cool, calm and collected exterior.
He is already talking about two fights between the pair for example. The outcome of the first bout being a comfortable Quigg victory that renders a second instalment pointless, and propels his charge onto bigger and better things, clearly hasn’t entered his thoughts.
Then there is his cynical latching on to Top Rank’s Chris Avalos, who just happened to be Frampton’s mandatory. Hearn made the Machiavellian move in order to have stick to beat McGuigan with in the negotiation room: play ball in agreeing a domestic super fight with my man Quigg, or I’ll force you into a less lucrative bout with my man (sort of) Avalos.
Now that Avalos appears to the latest sacrificial lamb to be clinically slaughtered by the gloved fists of Rigondeaux, it remains to be seen how effective that crafty stratagem proves to be.
Even the fact that Team Quigg are openly settling for half the profits can surely be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Why publicly state that the absolute dream scenario for them is to walk away with a fifty-fifty split? Why not march into negotiations declaring that Quigg, a world champion (of sorts) for the past two years with five successful defences and more wins and knockouts to his name, is the main man?
Why? Because even in the perfidious world of boxing negotiations, such brazen chicanery would be laughed out of town. In reality, all Quigg has to hold onto is the fact that Frampton wants to fight him and the whole of the UK and Ireland want to see the pair in a ring. And who knows, that may even be enough to get him the split he believes he deserves. If so, good luck to him. Because when all the talk is over and the first bell sounds, not even Eddie Hearn will honestly give him a 50:50 chance of winning.