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Carl Frampton Aims For a Win To Remember in Belfast

By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star

FOR Carl Frampton this Saturday night will certainly be a family affair as well as one of Northern Ireland's most iconic sporting occasions.

The Belfast super-bantamweight, 27, will take on IBF champion Kiko Martinez in front of 16,000 fans in a specially-constructed outdoor venue at the Titanic Quarter by the city's docks.

It is set to be the spectacular night and the one he hopes to repay the faith showed in him by the three families that have helped sculpt him into a fighter on the verge of world-title glory.

There is the family who raised Frampton -parents Craig and Flo - and now his own including pregnant wife Christine, who will have their three-year-old daughter Carla on her lap for the first time at ringside.

But there is also the family that have all but adopted him in recent years, the McGuigans.

Frampton signed as a professional back in 2009 with the former featherweight world champion and boxing icon Barry McGuigan as his manager.

Barry's son Shane is Frampton's trainer and the fighter spends around 12 weeks before a bout living with him in a Battersea apartment just a short walk from the gym the youngest of the McGuigans runs.

They are close friends, but the whole family have taken a keen interest with Barry's older sons Blain and Jake helping with the management side, and wife Sandra and daughter Danika providing their own support.

"Myself and Shane are the best of mates," said Frampton. "The whole family is great, I get on with everyone. Jake, Blain and Shane are three of my best friends.

"The girls are lovely too. Sandra is brilliant and washes my clothes when I go down to Barry's in Kent at the weekends and cooks my food. I do genuinely feel part of the family."

Barry may be seen as a father figure in the sport for Frampton and he acts like it as he watches him on the pads with Shane in the build-up to the big night this weekend.

In the small yet well-equipped gym in an old loading bay in Battersea, the former world-title holder shouts words of advice from ringside as the champion in the making looks razor sharp peppering the pads.

As the sessions draws to a close, Frampton politely asks for someone to fetch some salmon from a nearby shop to help him refuel as there is a taxi waiting to take him to a live radio interview.

It is not only key advice and guidance from a legend of the sport that the Belfast fighter receives as McGuigan Sr sets off quicker than some of the jabs he just witnessed to ensure his protégé's needs are met.

"I had other options when I was going pro and other promoters had a lot of fighters on their books," said Frampton, who has been navigated through 18 fights undefeated by McGuigan.

"But going with Barry I was going to get loads of attention, one-to-one and it has been the best decision of my life.

"My whole life is good, you know all because of boxing and turning pro with the right man."

While the McGuigan's cater for him in London, Christine looks after family affairs at home in a fairy tale story across Northern Ireland's political divide.

The Catholic from west Belfast was the one who often dipped into her student loan when her then Protestant husband to be was struggling for cash as an amateur boxer.

She has now put her career on hold for her man to achieve his dream and something he hopes to reward her for.

He said: "The toughest part is leaving her when she is pregnant and Carla, but she understands that this has to be done.

"Christine is a very clever girl, she has done a degree in Criminology, criminal justice but she has put her career on hold for me.

"I will happily be a house husband when I retire, stay at home, look after the kids and let her go off and follow her career."

Frampton's parents were the ones who kept him check when, growing up in Tiger's Bay Belfast, trouble was always near and his recently deceased granddad Hughie will have the fight dedicated in his honour.

All that stands in his way of repaying all the family support is Martinez, who he faces for the second time in his career.

He knocked the Spaniard out in 2013, but now in the shadows of the shipyard that built the Titanic he is ready to send him sinking to the canvas again in an iconic location.

Being a small fighter mentored by McGuigan, a Cathlolic, and having the same policy of refusing to come out to any flags or anthems from either side of the divide in Ireland, has led to obvious comparisons.

But while McGuigan will always have the famous night he beat Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road in 1985 to win the world title, Frampton is out to write his own history this Saturday.

He said: "I have to thank the Northern Ireland Executive, they are supporting me to get this fight on in this location and it is great to have government backing.

"There is some lazy journalists who say we are the same type of fighter, but in the ring we are not.

"It is approaching 30 years since Barry beat Pedroza and people are still talking about it, I would love for people to remember a great night on Saturday outdoors in Belfast.

"I want people to be talking about me in 10, 20 and 30 years' time."

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Cuban Linx on 09-01-2014

I like Frampton a lot, but this might prove to be a tough matchup for him. The first fight they had was competitive. Martinez was chasing him all around the ring and eventually gassed out and got blasted. We've seen…

Comment by Mick Higgs on 09-01-2014

I'm British, but am 100% hacked off by our guy's who are campaigning @ 122Lb. Scott Quigg had the chance to win a Lonsdale belt out-right, but chose to fight for a phony WBA trinket! Rigo is champ "END OF"!!..........

Comment by Dirk Diggler UK on 09-01-2014

[QUOTE=Corelone;14903297]Anywhere else in the world would make this easy to believe, but Belfast? That Kiko has some serious stones.[/QUOTE] Serious stones? He's being paid an absolute fortune having turned down the fight repeatedly.

Comment by Corelone on 09-01-2014

[QUOTE=afterpunk;14903143]The Sweet Science picks Martínez over Frampton: [url]http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/boxing-predictions/19217-boxing-odds-martinez-vs-frampton-for-ibf-super-bantamweight-title-september-6[/url][/QUOTE] Anywhere else in the world would make this easy to believe, but Belfast? That Kiko has some serious stones.

Comment by afterpunk on 09-01-2014

The Sweet Science picks Martínez over Frampton: [url]http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/boxing-predictions/19217-boxing-odds-martinez-vs-frampton-for-ibf-super-bantamweight-title-september-6[/url]

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