By Dee ‘The Hat’ Taggart
It was 2010 I was 4-1 as a professional and had been out of the ring for a year. I was finding it near enough impossible to get a fight never mind keep active.
I had suffered a shock knockout defeat in my second contest then came back later that year with a stoppage win, but still it was hard times for professional boxers in Ireland with no real big shows happening after Bernard Dunnes retirement in 2009.
But there was a new rising star from Tigers Bay in Belfast going by the name of Carl Frampton who was 7-0 and looking to step up and win his first title.
The contest was set for December 3 and the opponent for Carl was the very experienced Gavin Reid. The fight would be for the Celtic super-bantamweight title at the historic Ulster Hall.
I was there with Mickey Harte, who Barry McGuigan had asked to come as a guest with me to talk about getting on future shows planned for the Ulster Hall, which unfortunately never happened.
Myself and Mickey were given ringside seats right beside Barry who was buzzing in anticipation and in great form. I had been happy to see one of my stablemates from Breens Gym Stephain Haughian get a good solid eight rounder in against Dave Ryan, he was a great lad who I shared many tough rounds with, there weren’t really any other kind of rounds than tough in that amazing gym.
But anyway the atmosphere was absolutely electric as Carl came in with his trainer the great Gerry Storey to “I tell my ma when i go home”, but the truth is Carl didn’t need his ma, on this night Carl didn’t need anything other than the bell to ring.
And once the bell rang he got straight down to business, controlling the centre of the ring and all the action like a solid championship level professional, this was only his seventh fight.
He even appeared to hurt Reid almost straight away with a looping right hand over the top, this was the same man who had taken Scot Quigg nine rounds earlier in the year in a British title eliminator! The second round began and Reid tried to pick it up and make a stand, that wasn’t a good move. Carl stayed really calm and composed, he began to once again boss the contest switching from body to head not just effortlessly but clinically too.
The thing about Carl Frampton at that time was he was not just a solid well rounded boxer and was also incredibly heavy handed.
With a minute to go boxing was just about to give me another ‘Moment’
Carl began to move in like a PANTHER! So powerful yet poised, and I remember saying to Mickey to ‘look at his eyes’!!
With all the noise, anticipation, and carnage bellowing around the atmospheric Ulster Hall as Carl began to break Gavin down I remember being struck by the stillness and coldness in his eyes. Na’ I wasn’t just stuck as Steve Grey moved in to wave off the contest, I was frightened.
I’d been boxing and watching boxing my whole life and I had very rarely seen a fighter’s eyes that still, and cold. That moment i’ll never forget, this young gentleman from Tigers Bay Carl Frampton had the eyes of a KILLER!! So driven and ruthless yet so balanced and composed. I remember thinking after I’d calmed down ‘he’s going all the way’, the rest is history. Carl and history are quite poignant at the minute, as he is soon he is gonna bid to become Ireland’s first ever three weight world champion.