Frampton ready for shot at European title, says McGuigan

BARRY McGUIGAN wants the winner of Saturday night’s all-Irish European title fight between Willie Casey and Paul Hyland to give Carl Frampton a shot at the belt.

Unbeaten Frampton, who fights Gavin Reid for the Celtic super-bantamweight crown on McGuigan’s second Ulster Hall show on December 3, will be an interested spectator at the UL Arena.

“It shows just how strong boxing is here that we have three boxers at this level in the same division at the same time. I know the winner will have to fight Kiko Martinez in his first defence, but after that I want first crack.”

Frampton was very impressive when he stopped former Bernard Dunne challenger, Yuriy Voronin, at the Ulster Hall in September and McGuigan, his promoter, insists he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Hyland and Casey.

“Carl has all the tools to get to the very top and even though he has only had seven fights I would be happy to put him in against Hyland or Casey right now,” said the former world featherweight champion.

“Carl was one of the most successful Irish amateurs of recent years and since turning pro we have had him work with some of the best super-bantams and feathers in Europe so he knows how to adapt to any situation.”

Willie Casey, however, has more to think about than Frampton’s ambitions right now as his date with destiny approaches.

All his training had been geared towards Kiko Martinez but he insisted that when the Spanish knockout artist was forced to withdraw he had little difficulty readjusting to the more technical challenge that Hyland will offer.

“When you’re out on those early morning runs you have a bit of time to think and visualise the fight,” he said. “Up until last week it was always Kiko’s face that was in front of me. That’s changed to Paul Hyland’s now but the result is always the same and at the end of it I’m holding the belt and by the time I come back from my run I have a smile on my face.”

Casey grew up in the Southill area of Limerick city and despite some unfavourable publicity about his homeplace, he is proud of his roots.

“I love my life there, I have great neighbours and there’s an awful lot of hard working people there just looking to get on with their lives.

“I was lucky that from the time I started boxing as a kid I’ve had good coaches around me to encourage me and I see young kids in the boxing gyms in Limerick today and they are no different to me. All they need is that encouragement and the self belief to realise that they can be as good as anyone else as long as they are willing to put in the hard work.

“I look at my brother Mylie and what he’s achieved. He’s winning Irish titles for fun and he is still only 17. I think he has it in him to go a long way in the sport.”

Saturday night’s undercard features the return of Martin “Iron Man” Rogan, the inaugural Prizefighter champion and former Commonwealth heavyweight champion after a serious neck injury.

Cork-based Cuban hotshot Luis Garcia faces a massive step up in class in just his 11th pro fight to take on former two-time world champion Byron Mitchell, who once put Joe Calzaghe on the canvas.

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