Carl Frampton belted out a consistent tune as he summed up the bitterness surrounding his latest tiff with Scott Quigg ahead of their big fight: he’s top of the pops, the A-side chart-topper and that’s that.
Speaking at yesterday’s final pre-fight press conference in Manchester, Barry McGuigan’s protege maintained Quigg is the only bum note in a (soap) opera that will finally climax tomorrow night after five years of talk and hype.
The latest divisive subject to ramp up an already intense rivalry is the question of who gets the ‘star’ dressing room for the world super-bantamweight unification bout at the Manchester Arena tomorrow night.
There has been an ongoing effort from both fighters’ teams to upset and demean the opposition and Frampton wore a grin when speaking about the latest farcical row as he mischievously crooned: “(Say) if the band Elbow are from Bury, his [Quigg’s] home town. U2 are from Dublin… If U2 come to the Manchester Arena supported by Elbow, who gets the main dressing room? U2 or Elbow? It’s U2.”
It may appear to be a rather trivial debate, but in a fight that took years to make, every sensitive issue creates ammunition for the warring sides.
When asked if a cancellation could be on the cards, Frampton was adamant that either he gets star treatment or else neither fighter should occupy the disputed dressing room for the Sky Box Office pay-per-view bout.
The 29-year-old is not entertaining the idea that his rival gets his way, but while it may appear that Frampton is playing the diva, it seemed quite obvious that the row is an effort to upset 27-year-old Quigg — and one that seems to have worked.
“I’m not moving. It’s either I’m in or we lock the door,” said Frampton.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) February 25, 2016
“I’m in the dressing room or the dressing room is locked. That’s the bottom line. I’m not giving in to Quigg. I’m the A side here, I’m not giving in to him.”
The Belfast Jackal’s motivation may be to play mind games with his rival as fight night approaches, with further antics expected at today’s weigh-in, but his argument is based on his status as ‘champion’ for the title unification bout.
Big-time boxing today is riddled with paper titles, but Frampton is a genuine world champion and this is a genuinely competitive fight between two unbeaten foes.
Quigg also holds a world title (the WBA version), but the controversial circumstances in which he was awarded that belt mean many question his credentials even if they do not argue against his talent or ability.
The difficult negotiation process to make the fight produced an agreement which has seen Frampton being afforded the privileges normally associated with being ‘champion’ on fight night and the Belfast native has had first billing in the promotional build-up and will walk to the ring second.
In truth, the latest debate seems centred on Frampton’s belief that Quigg is superstitious about occupying the ‘home’ dressing room in Manchester, with the Irish fighter keeping up his musical tune during the top-table section of the press conference as he played an audio clip of Stevie Wonder’s 1972 hit ‘Superstition’ on his iPhone.
“If he backs himself so much it shouldn’t matter what dressing room he goes into,” questioned Frampton of his rival’s self-confidence or lack thereof.
“He’s the one who is rattled… I don’t have any superstitions. I don’t have any weaknesses.”
Quigg is not up for a compromise, claiming “It’s the dressing room I want and that’s it”, and while his promoter Eddie Hearn was also slightly rancorous at times during the press conference, the Matchroom promoter was adamant that the fight will not be derailed by the dressing-room drama.
“They [Team Frampton] couldn’t walk away from this, they’d be a laughing stock. The fact is that when you’re in a home fight and in the home corner, generally you have the home changing room,” said Hearn.
“I just find it so funny… What are we arguing over — a dressing room? They’re going to go in there and try to knock each other out, so does it really matter where they get changed?”
Tensions also continued to simmer between trainers Shane McGuigan (Barry’s son) and Joe Gallagher, while Hearn suggested that Frampton’s travelling support from Ireland – expected to be well into four figures – will not be as significant as expected.
Meanwhile, Quigg’s trainer Gallagher continued to insinuate Frampton will struggle to make the 122lb super-bantamweight limit – a claim quickly dismissed by the Irish fighter.
More drama is expected at today’s weigh-in.
The real hits will not play out until tomorrow.
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