Since the beginning of the ‘alphabet’ title era, no other Irish boxer has managed to unify world belts but 29-year-old Frampton managed to achieve the feat, adding the WBA title to his IBF super-bantamweight (122lb) crown with his split-decision points win over Bury’s Scott Quigg in Manchester on Saturday.
The undefeated Frampton was unaware of his particular unification achievement until he was informed of it at the post-fight press conference, and the Belfast native is now keen to move up to featherweight in order to become a two-weight champion, a feat only achieved by one other Irish professional boxer — Steve Collins.
“I didn’t know, I thought Steve Collins was the first [Irishman to unify titles]… he was the first two-weight champion, was he? Maybe I can go and do that too now at some point as well,” said Frampton after his win in front of a packed Manchester Arena where a vocal Irish support made up the bulk of the 20,000 attendance.
“I never thought it would ever get this big,” continued Frampton. “When I was an amateur, I would have been one of these guys who would have been happy if I lost a fight but the performance was okay. I’d shrug my shoulders and say “okay” but my mentality is changed now and I want to win at all costs and I’m happy to do that now. I don’t ever think about losing now and a lot of that is to do with Barry,” added the 29-year-old, referring to manager and mentor Barry McGuigan.
Legend McGuigan, himself a former WBA world champion, was handed the ideal present as he celebrated his birthday in the wee hours of yesterday morning after his protégé delivered a controlled performance. “I think he is the best fighter Ireland has ever had,” said McGuigan. “I know that is a big, bold statement but we are going to have time to prove that,” he added.
Frampton dominated the first half of Saturday’s grudge pay-per-view TV fight with Quigg — a bout five-and-a-half years in the making and one hyped by Sky Box Office.
The clash was in danger of failing to match that hype at the midway stage as a composed Frampton dictated the pace with his pawing jab while Quigg failed to fire.
The Bury native finally came into the fight from the eighth round onwards, working Frampton’s body with heavy shots in the later rounds, but his revival came too late.
Frampton withstood all of Quigg’s efforts and managed to trade body and head shots while enduring a number of heavy punches to the ribs.
One judge, American Levi Martinez, questionably scored the fight 115-113 in Quigg’s favour, while the two remaining officials gave it to Frampton 116-112. This reporter scored it 117-112 in Frampton’s favour.
Quigg later claimed that a Frampton uppercut in the fourth round broke his jaw and upset his gameplan.
“I knew it was going to be a boring fight, I knew that was how it would probably play out,” said Frampton.
“You can’t really say that before it because it is pay per view and nobody will buy it! I knew it would be technical like that. I couldn’t believe one of the judges gave it to him.”
Twenty-seven-year-old Quigg called for a rematch in Frampton’s Belfast, but the unified champion seems more eager to pursue lucrative bouts in America.
Frampton is keen on a fight against Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux — widely regarded as the best fighter in the 122lb super-bantamweight division — but McGuigan appears more eager to see his man move up in weight to take on WBA featherweight champ Leo Santa Cruz of California.
“That would be unbelievable,” admitted Frampton. “If you beat someone like Santa Cruz at feather, you’d probably sneak into the pound-for-pound [list].
“He [McGuigan] wants to make me as much money as possible and I suppose that’s a manager’s job,” continued the Belfast man in reference to the fact that a Santa Cruz fight is seen as more lucrative than a bout against the defensive Rigondeaux.