By Mark Whalley
- Belfast’s Frampton and Bury’s Quigg meet on Feb 27
- Both hold versions of world titles in the super-bantamweight division
- Opinion is firmly divided on who will emerge victorious
MANCHESTER, UK – It’s fair to say that expectations are high for next week’s showdown between Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg.
Buy Tickets for Frampton v Quigg here
That’s why those of us in the UK not fortunate enough to be attending are being asked to stump up £17 for the privilege of watching on TV.
There are generally two reasons why SKY would schedule a bout for pay-per-view: the fight is either in the heavyweight division (forever destined to be boxing’s “glamour” weight class), or features a fighter who has achieved mainstream popular appeal (think Ricky Hatton and, more recently, Carl Froch).
Frampton/Quigg ticks neither of these boxes. For one, their combined maximum weight (as super-bantamweights) totals just under what Tyson Fury scaled in at when he fought Wladimir Klitschko. And beyond this, neither name is likely to be on the radar of anyone with less than a passing interest in British boxing.
Indeed, the debatable popularity of the fighters has been one of the ongoing niggles between the two for years. It has long been the opinion of Frampton that despite being from Northern Ireland, he would garner more support in Manchester than local-boy Quigg, who he has constantly belittled as being unable to sell tickets.
So, going back to the pay-per-view issue, why is it happening? Simply put, because this could be a classic. The ingredients are there:
This fight has been in the making for years. The two have been talking about each other on a regular basis since 2012 (if not before). In boxing, protracted build-ups are the norm and tread a fine line. Done correctly, they build up public interest, anticipation and (most critically for those involved) money. But go on too long, and they grind the patience of even the most enthusiastic fan to pure dust. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were hideously guilty of this, and Amir Khan and Kell Brook have likely fallen into the same trap.
Quigg and Frampton have just about avoided this fate. Their rivalry began when both were at domestic level, but now they’re both world champions, so the extra prestige at stake makes the wait justifiable. And the money on offer is now huge compared to the £75k Quigg turned down from Frampton’s team to make the fight four years ago. That they’re not at the forefront of the public’s consciousness has probably helped because relatively few people have been exposed to the frustrating complication of putting this event together.
The two boxers have a healthy rivalry, and both clearly respect each other. This can be heartening to see in an era where belittling the opponent pre-fight in the most ridiculous ways possible has seemed to become a more competitive pursuit than the fight itself. Neither of these two feel the need to completely debase themselves in order to sell more tickets – Tyson Fury might well take note here.
But there is certainly needle there. Frampton used to be promoted by Quigg’s current promoter Eddie Hearn, and there is clearly bad blood between the Northern Irishman and his former paymaster. Similarly, Frampton’s trainer Shane McGuigan has been exchanging barbs with his opposite number Joe Gallagher for some time.
All this has seemed to rile the fighters up. Quigg, usually very amiable, has made a point of not ceding any ground to his rival throughout the promotional tour – at some points (such as when discussing their fanbases) basically arguing that black is white. His intention is clearly to get under Frampton’s skin, and at times he seems to have succeeded.
Frampton’s main focus of attack is the legitimacy of Quigg’s WBA belt, the dubiousness of which brings into question whether he is a “true” world champion. Will it have sewn any seeds of doubt in the Bury fighter’s mind?
Partisan support bases
Frampton loves to remind Quigg of his far superior popularity, but Quigg can expect plenty of support given the fight’s Manchester location. Throw in a raucous Belfast contingent – and they will travel in their thousands for this one, for sure – and you have a potential Molotov cocktail of passionate spectators. The stewards might well have their hands full on the 27th.
“Styles make fights”, as they say. Sometimes they clash to produce pure tedium, and sometimes they combine perfectly. On paper, Quigg and Frampton’s traits blend well.
Quigg is big and strong at the weight, with a very hard left to the body and a tendency to finish well when he has his opponent hurt. However, he lacks nuance, a lack of concentration has seen him knocked down a couple of times by unheralded opponents, and Frampton has openly questioned his ability to formulate a “plan B” if things aren’t working.
Frampton has the enviable combination of slickness and power. His accuracy is sure to trouble Quigg, who is not known for his strong head movement. However, he was dropped twice in his last fight, which will bring into question the durability of his chin. He also seems to be vulnerable to body shots so can expect to be on the receiving end of plenty, and he has slowed down as fights go on. He might find Quigg’s strong engine to be a major concern, should the fight extend the distance.
A year ago, this matchup was seen as one that Frampton should win comfortably. But his shaky last performance was a total contrast to Quigg’s obliteration of Kiko Martinez, and that has swayed many fans and pundits. There are some who think Quigg is simply too large. Others feel that Frampton is a much better boxer and can make the fight an easy one with discipline and a sound strategy.
For what it’s worth, my view is that Frampton has too much in his arsenal for Quigg, who will enjoy periods of success but will ultimately be made to look limited. I expect a late stoppage, or a Frampton win on points.
The beauty of this fight, however, is that any result feels genuinely possible. The intrigue is good for the sport. This one is unlikely to disappoint.