Carl Frampton plans to take El Paso by storm

There is little need to shell out any dollars on a historical guide to the city of El Paso. 

Carl Frampton plans to take El Paso by storm

There is little need to shell out any dollars on a historical guide to the city of El Paso. A leisurely stroll around downtown can feel like stepping back in time all on its own.

There’s no clear divide between old town and new. The heart of the city revolves around a square block where the Federal and County Courthouses stand sentry over the County Jail with the Police Department just behind. Where other US cities have a Starbucks on every downtown corner, this part of El Paso has bail bondsmen. This is as west as Texas gets, and it can feel a little on the wild side.

But a parking lot on the corner of Mills Ave and Stanton St tells you all you need to know about the Sun City. On one side, artists’ depictions of the El Paso boxing hall of fame run for over 60 metres along the wall of the old DeSoto Hotel. On the other, a stunning three storey high mural called Animo Sin Fronteras (Spirit Without Borders) represents a father fighting for justice for a missing son.

The artist said it complemented the boxing mural perfectly because it represents the fighting spirit of El Paso.

It is here where Carl Frampton will make his American debut tonight.

The town may feel as though it’s trapped between both sides of the border, at times more Mexico than USA, but that matters not. Because more than anything, this is boxing country.

Belfast’s IBF super bantamweight world champion described the locals earlier this week as “discerning” boxing people. As is usually the case, Frampton was bang on the money. They know the fight game here, know the real thing and know a knock-off when they see it.

Undefeated Frampton makes his long-awaited US bow against Mexican prospect Alejandro Gonzalez Jr tonight on a day-night double bill at the Don Haskins Centre, less than a mile from the border.

The evening part of the show is headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, a man whom most locals appear to have now tired of. He’s but a shadow of his great father and in the Sun City, shadows just come and go.

But Frampton clearly intrigues them. He may be fighting a man who is all but one of their own but the atmosphere tonight is unlikely to be wildly partisan. The boxing folk of El Paso suspect they are about to bear witness to a special talent. Now, after 20 fights and 20 wins on home shores, it’s time for the 28-year-old to go and prove it to this town — and the rest of America.

“This is going to be a huge opportunity for Carl to move into the US market and I’m fully expecting him to make a huge statement,” says Frampton’s mentor, manager and spiritual leader Barry McGuigan.

“He’s already taken Ireland, the UK, Europe by storm. He is perfectly suited to America. He’s humble. He’s a good-looking kid with a phenomenal physique.

“He’s such a delightful fighter to watch. It’s going to be a delight watching him conquer the US now too.” Patience has been a forte for Team Frampton. No move has been rushed to this point. The US debut may only have come about when negotiations over a unification grudge match with Scott Quigg broke down but yet again, The Jackal’s timing looks to be impeccable.

The division is rammed with terrific talents from Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares to the magnificent Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux. In such company, a statement of intent couldn’t be more timely.

By signing on with Al Haymon’s burgeoning Premier Boxing Champions promotion, Frampton finds himself beamed into every US living room tonight. The fight is being broadcast on network TV by CBS and in Gonzalez, an able but you sense here outmatched defensive fighter with a 25-1-2 record, Frampton has an opponent he can hunt down and make an example of.

“We are here because, number one, we are going into every home in America,” says McGuigan, all week visibly excited at returning to US shores. “It doesn’t matter whether the fight was in Alaska or in Texas, we’re going into every living room. That was the most important thing.

“Styles makes fights. If a guy backs off you, you then have to go looking for him. That makes it more difficult for Carl. But I think he will be impressive. He always is. He’s just a natural.” In the boxing country of El Paso, they love nothing more.

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