New British Boxers columnist Ajuan-Isaac George rates Carl Frampton as the UK’s No1 boxer, in and out of the ring.
At a time when Britain is able to boast no less than twelve world Champions (Tyson Fury has of 13/10/2016 vacated his WBA, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine championship belts), ranging all the way from the Heavyweights to Bantamweight with IBF World Champion Lee Haskins (34-3-0), the question of who exactly is Britain’s best between the ropes has never been up for more debate.
Some would argue that Anthony Joshua (17-0-0) had an outstanding year, winning the IBF Heavyweight crown with a spectacular second round knockout over Charles Martin (23-1-1) in March. This was followed by a measured performance in which he stopped previously unbeaten American Dominic Breazeale (17-1-0). Others would argue that Kell Brook (37-1-0) done his reputation more harm than good in his recent defeat to middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin (36-0-0) in which trainer Dominic Ingle threw in the towel in the fifth round. However upon closer inspection, Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton (23-0-0) emerges as the standout candidate for a number of reasons.
In 2015 Carl Frampton stated “I want to be a legend. Honestly that’s what I want to be, a legend in Irish sports. I want to create a legacy. I want to keep beating big names”. In February of 2016, Frampton showed he was serious about fulfilling this prophecy by establishing himself as the premier Super Bantamweight in world with a split decision victory over domestic rival and then WBA Champion Scott Quigg (31-1-2). During the fight Frampton was able to showcase the multiple layers to his talent; throughout the first six rounds he controlled the distance using excellent footwork and a stiff jab (he ultimately landed almost three times as many jabs as Quigg). However even in the second half of the fight as Quigg upped his pace, Frampton was able to maintain his composure and gain the victory.
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While this would have been a remarkable accomplishment in itself, it was Frampton’s move up to Featherweight to challenge undefeated Mexican pressure fighter Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1) for his WBA (super) belt that really puts him clear of his domestic rivals. Going into the fight, Frampton was the slight underdog and conceded a two inch reach advantage. However on fight night he was able to neutralise Santa Cruz’s usually relentless work rate using scarily accurate combinations, even managing to wobble Santa Cruz in the second round. The fight which ended up garnering 68% of the vote amongst American fans as fight of the year ( ahead of Keith Thurman VS Shawn Porter) was one of the greatest performances by a British fighter on foreign soil in the last fifty years.
After the fight Frampton’s manager and Irish boxing legend Barry McGuigan said “This is one of the greatest nights of my life”. In some ways this comment by McGuigan, who held the same belt thirty years previously, is as fitting a tribute as there can be. At the risk of sounding nostalgic, Frampton possesses a throwback mentality during a period in which
even some of the best boxers on the planet have adopted a low risk- high reward mentality. He deserves endless admiration for taking two extremely risky fights back to back.
While he certainly deserves praise for his boxing ability, Frampton also has made a massive impact outside of the ring. Whilst he was not alive to see the world title triumphs and courageousness of his manager, in many ways, even decades later he represents something similar. McGuigan, a Catholic, once made headlines, for marrying a protestant. Frampton, who is a protestant, is now married to his wife Christine, a Catholic. And while in 2012 Frampton truthfully maintained that “it was a lot tougher in Barry’s day. A Catholic going with a Protestant girl at the height of the troubles”, he too can be seen as a symbol of peace. Frampton opts not to have any national anthem played for his fights and has perhaps the largest travelling fan base in Britain since Rick Hatton, often bringing thousands, both of Protestant and Catholic backgrounds, to his fights. As McGuigan himself noted in 2014, Frampton has become “A beacon for peace and reconciliation and represents the future of Northern Ireland”.
However in spite of these similarities, Frampton is very much his own man. He has spoken about moving up to Super Featherweight in 2017 to cement his legacy and become the first Irishman and only the third Brit (After Duke McKenzie in 1992 and Rick Burns in 2016) to win world titles in three different weight classes in the last one hundred years. After the year he has had, it may prove foolish to doubt hm.
More from Ajuan-Isaac George coming soon to British Boxers.
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Frampton-Santa Cruz Rematch Confirmed
It has been confirmed today that Frampton has signed a deal to defend his WBA world featherweight title in a rematch against former champion Santa Cruz, who he beat to claim the belt.
Frampton, 29, announced the news on Twitter today although a date has not yet been revealed, although British Boxers believe the rematch is to be staged in Las Vegas in January 2017. More to follow on this news.
Frampton vs Santa Cruz I Fight Highlights
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