By Terence Dooley
Former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan was in an ebullient mood after watching his protégé Carl Frampton defeat Venezuelan Oscar Chacin, now 13-15-1 (11), at the Huddersfield Leisure Centre on Saturday night. McGuigan did things the proper way during his eight-year career, picking up European and British titles en route to his stunning WBA featherweight title win over Eusebio Pedroza in 1985.
Carl (124½lb) showed poise and plenty of pugnacious fortitude during his win over the 32-year-old visitor, cutting Chacin’s left eye in round three and forcing referee John Keane to withdraw Oscar (127¾lb) at 2:20 of the fourth of the scheduled six-threes due to the severity of the cut.
‘The Clones Cyclone’ was impressed by the maturity shown by Carl, who moves to 9-0 (6); Barry feels that Frampton has shown every indication that he can follow in his footsteps. “Carl is ready to go,” said McGuigan.
“He’s the best super-bantamweight in the country right now. Carl’s better than all these other guys already, he’s in a different league. This kid Chacin has a tremendous chin. He got stopped against [Alexei] Acosta in Ireland last September but the ref [David Irving] jumped in a bit early on that one. I’ve got tremendous respect for David, but I felt he stopped it too early that night. This guy didn’t even get into the fight against Carl.”
Carl, though, is suffering from the perennial prospect’s problem; halting his opponents garners rave reviews yet the early nights fleece Frampton of the chance to get rounds under his belt.
“We got a few rounds, that is the important thing”, concurred McGuigan, “but I’d like to see more rounds because I’ve seen what this guy can do in the gym. The truth is that he beat that guy all over the place, he was so brave but Carl would have stopped him in the next round.
“If he would have got him with a couple of more shots he’d have been knocked out pretty badly. The kid is a good journeyman fighter so it was great to see the referee show a bit of compassion because if it had gone for another round Carl would have knocked him out. John Keane is a very clever referee and knows when to stop a fight.
“There was a bit of rough stuff but that was another experience for Carl. He’s come from the amateur game where fighters can box from range but he knows now that he’s got to get in close, to manhandle the opponent and there was a bit of that tonight. It is a tough game in there.
“It was good to get four rounds but we need more than that. He’s doing rounds in the gym and going flat out to dominate the sparring. We also brought in John Simpson for sparring to give him that experience. Carl’s a great little character and a terrific kid, I’m proud to be associated with him.”
McGuigan had a sensational career. Ireland ground to a halt whenever he fought, as did religious and political squabbles with the Irish declaring that they should “Leave the fighting to McGuigan” whenever their hero took to the ring. The Clones man lived the life; he sees a lot of himself in his 24-year-old pupil.
“Carl’s just like I was, dedicated to boxing. He’s got a young common-law wife now, Christine, and a baby daughter, a gorgeous looking child. He’s moving forward so we just want to keep him busy,” he reiterated.
“We’ve had three months since the last fight [a second round TKO win over Gavin Reid] and that is too long, he needs to be out more often and we’re going to try and do that. We will put him out in Ireland next time or over here, I have a great relationship with Barry Hearn and Matchroom and it was great of them to showcase him tonight – we just need the opportunities for him to get the rounds in.”
Leicester’s Rendall Munroe and Nottingham’s evergreen Jason Booth spearhead the British 122lb scene. Both men challenged for world titles last year, against Toshiaki Nishioka and Steve Molitor respectively. Joe Murray, Scott Quigg and Rhys Roberts are leading the chasing pack. McGuigan, however, believes that Frampton is the dark horse of the division.
He said, “[Kiko] Martinez looks like he’s fighting Booth for the vacant European title over in Madrid. We wish Jason well and we’d love a fight with Jason if he wins. Jason is a fantastic guy, a great ambassador for the sport and he has great respect for Carl so we very much look forward to taking on Jason or the other guys at the top of the super-bantamweight division.
“I’ve got great respect for the other contenders but I’ve got the best prospect in boxing. We picked this guy [Chacin] because just last month he went six rounds with Kiko. Carl didn’t lose a round, not even half a round, he did a great job – I’m very excited.”
McGuigan knows the benefits of hard work and commitment. As a young fighter, the budding pro used to tuck a newspaper under his arm to tighten his guard and avoid the cardinal sin of allowing the elbow to drift upwards. Faultlessness is a route sought by many but travelled by few, Barry hopes that Carl will use hard graft to negotiate a path through the precarious professional waters.
“He still has work to do, myself, [trainer] Gerry Storey and our team will cast a sagacious eye over him and see where we can go, he’s got fast hands, he can pick his shots and he can turn southpaw, as you’ve seen tonight,” enthused McGuigan, who noted the presence of Munroe at ringside.
“Absolutely”, he said when asked if the ‘Boxing Bin Man’ was keeping tabs on a future title rival. “Rendall is a lovely guy, a consummate professional and a hard worker, he will have been interested tonight because he knows this guy is hot. Scott Quigg, Joe Murray and even Acosta will be watching this guy like a hawk. Carl sparred with Acosta, he more than did well in that spar so we know what he’s capable of.”
Barry retired in 1989, his 35-fight record includes three world title wins, there has been no post-boxing in McGuigan’s personal trajectory, he stayed in constant touch with game, playing numerous roles, from broadcaster through to manager, and brought his own son, Shane, through the ranks; his other son, Jake, studies business in London.
“I live it and love it. I get more nervous than I did when I used to fight. Carl is like a family member, he lives with me for two weeks before a fight. My son, Shane, works with him on his conditioning and nutrition. Shane is a very intellectual kid and knows the game having done it himself.
“Shane had Carl down to 3% body fat for his last fight. It is a team effort. We’re all heavily involved. I want to be part of it all because I understand the sport. But you have to understand and pardon me if I get a bit excited at ringside.
“I also commentate on boxing and have Barry McGuigan Boxing Academies in places like Stockport, Leicester and Filton. I enjoy helping out with boxing all over the country and in Ireland. I am completely immersed in boxing, so are my sons and so is Carl. My wife, Sandra, has to put up with us talking about it all the time. Now we’ll go away and do the post-fight analysis to look for things to work on so we can make Carl even better. I love being able to give something back to the game because these kids coming through are the future of the sport.”
McGuigan once defended his trade during a BBC programme in which boxing was placed on trial. Labour MP Roy Hattersley used the broadcast as a showcase, a chance to do a bit of political grandstanding. McGuigan had spoken from the heart, revealing that he was deeply affected by the fatal injuries suffered by Young Ali in their 1982 encounter. Ali slipped into a coma in the aftermath of his sixth round KO defeat, he never returned to consciousness, dying five months later.
Barry launched a passionate plea for boxing during the show, arguing that the sport is a force for social good. Fittingly, our conversation ended with a few words about the positive aspects of boxing.
He said, “Carl will go away and learn from tonight’s performance. He will be back in the gym and back to work. That is what it is all about. Education in boxing is the ultimate way of instilling discipline, it can change lives.”
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