Carl Frampton crowned unified world super-bantamweight champion
Published 28/02/2016 | 00:31
Carl Frampton was crowned unified world super-bantamweight champion after beating fellow Briton Scott Quigg on points at Manchester Arena.
The much-anticipated showdown between two fighters who both went into it undefeated was widely regarded beforehand as a 50-50 contest, although Frampton was marginal favourite with the bookmakers.
And it was the Northern Irishman who did eventually emerge triumphant after 12 rounds in front of a cacophonous 20,000 sell-out crowd, winning on a split decision to add Bury-born Quigg's WBA title to his own IBF belt.
Frampton got the nod courtesy of 116-112 counts in his favour by two judges, with the other giving it to Quigg 115-113.
While the fight was not the classic some had predicted, and certainly took a while to warm up, it had become a decent spectacle by the last few rounds, with Quigg - who had struggled to make much of an impression for much of the time up to that point - looking the likelier to land any knockout that might be coming.
The bout marked the climax of a rivalry which had been brewing for several years and seemed to increase another level in the last few days of build-up.
There had been heated words and minor skirmishes between the two camps at both the final press conference and the weigh-in.
Amid that, a dispute had broken out about who would use the biggest dressing room on fight night, Frampton - who suggested he might "walk away" over the matter - claiming his entitlement to it as the "star of the show" and Quigg adamant he should have it as the home fighter.
It is understood that in the end it was locked with neither man using it - something Frampton's camp had been suggesting as a resolution and thus looked very much like a pre-fight victory for the Belfast native.
Whether Quigg was rattled by that or not, he appeared confident as he headed to the ring first in an arena which had seen him shine in his previous fight, an impressive second-round knockout victory over Spain's Kiko Martinez last summer.
His entrance was met by an almighty roar - although boos were more audible than anything else.
Both Quigg and Frampton had insisted they would have the more vociferous support at the venue, and it was clear there was a considerable Northern Irish contingent in attendance, who cheered their man on heartily as he arrived.
It all made for a fantastic atmosphere - but after all the hype, the opening few rounds were a major disappointment.
Both men looked somewhat apprehensive, and neither landed any shots of real note, although it was Frampton who was in control.
Quigg started to improve but the best work was still coming from Frampton by the end of the sixth and seventh.
In the eighth things finally started to get going properly, with Quigg enjoying some genuine success for the first time, and in the ninth he landed a big right that had Frampton temporarily shaken.
A proper battle had developed at last, and as it continued, there were some more significant blows delivered by Quigg's right first.
Frampton looked the more tired of the two but was able to keep fighting back - and come the final bell it proved he had done enough.
Frampton said afterwards: "I did what I had to do to make it easy for myself.
"I couldn't believe what was going on when I heard the split decision - I felt I was a comfortable winner - but it's onwards and upwards for me now.
"I knew it was going to be a tactical fight all along and a bit timid but you have to do what it takes to win. I'm not going to rush into silly punches. You have to be smart. I was and I got the win.
"He's a solid puncher... I think both of us are and that is why it was so cautious early on. But he never really rocked me."
Frampton was keen to forget about the pre-bout rivalry, adding on BBC Radio 5 Live: That's the end of all the disrespect - from my side anyway.
"I'm proud to have beaten a very good fighter tonight. There's a lot of history between our teams but he was a worthy champion."
Quigg's promoter Eddie Hearn had no complaints about the verdict.
He said: "It was a cracking five rounds after a slow start. I gave it to Carl Frampton by a couple of rounds, Scott started too late and gave him a bit too much respect.
"Some people will fail to see how well Carl Frampton fought. I think Scott had him badly hurt in the 11th but fair play to him, I think he was the deserved winner.
"You can't be haphazard in the early rounds and start attacking and throwing punches. You've got to go the distance.
"Scott started throwing caution to the wind when he had to but it was too late, unless we got the knockout - and my gut feeling going into the last round was Carl Frampton had won the fight."