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McGuigan won’t let fate repeat itself

Champion Carl Frampton and challenger Chris Avalos were weighing-in yesterday (Thursday) at Belfast's Europa Hotel for Saturday’s IBF super-bantamweight world championship bout, when things got heated as they sometimes do.

It seems the man they call The Jackal was amused by Avalos’ ‘trouble’ at making the weight. Increasingly heated exchanges included the challenger’s mum spitting her chewing gum at the champ, apparently angering him.

While that’s a new one for everybody, there’s nothing like the good old spectacle of two fighters champing at the bit to tear each other up. That definitely seems to be the prospect we have in store here tomorrow.

Local Tiger’s Bay product Frampton (19-0-0) has a manager who knows all about surprise contenders. In June 1986, then WBA featherweight champ Barry McGuigan, the one-time Clones Cyclone, was about to take his first step to global superstardom with a bout against Argentine Fernando Sosa in Las Vegas. When Sosa detached a retina during training, in stepped little-known American replacement Steve Cruz.

Cruz had an unimpressive record and promised to provide the feisty Ulsterman the opportunity to put on an impressive show under America’s admiring gaze.

The rest is one of the darkest passages in British boxing history – to paraphrase the newspapers of the time. Built in Caesar’s Palace car-park and open to the Nevada desert sun, the makeshift venue exposed the white-skinned Irishman to temperatures of 125 degrees F; not to mention a lanky challenger with a metronomic jab, the opposite of the stocky Sosa for whom McGuigan had prepared.

Just as the Cruz fight was an appetiser to drum up fans-to-be for McGuigan's assault on America, so the fight that’s whetting American appetites today is a prospective meeting between the latest Irish boxing cyclone and Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux.

So you could say that tomorrow’s fight, which marks ITV’s re-entry into televised boxing and is being broadcast in the US and 49 other countries, is fuel to fan the flames for the potential clash with the classy Cuban.

Frampton is also talking about ‘fitting in’ a bout this summer against the WBA champ, Bury's Scott Quigg.

But first, Avalos.

No patsy, the 25-year old 5’ 7” Californian weighed in half a pound over the 122 limit yesterday. Known as ‘The Hitman’, he may not be in the same exalted league as a previous ‘Hitman’ (from Detroit), but he’s lost only two fights – each a split decision against a top-class fighter.

Yes, the form line through Avalos’ second loss, against then unbeaten Colombian Jhonatan Romero in 2012, strongly favors Frampton. Romero was knocked out in August 2103 in Atlantic City by Frampton’s most recent victim Kiko Martinez; Frampton put on a clinic to beat Martinez (for the second time) in nine last September in Belfast.

There'll be no blazing sun to trouble Frampton tomorrow as it did his manager that fateful afternoon in the desert nearly 30 years ago. Nor will his blazingly bright future distract him from tomorrow's task at the Odyssey Arena. Who better than Barry McGuigan to have made sure of that?

By Stan Wenners


The Journalist

Writer: Stan Wenners Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday February 28 2015

Time: 8:20AM

 

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