It was a great privilege to be invited by the Irish Boxing Writers' Association to officially induct former WBA world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan into the Association's Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Belfast on Wednesday.
The event, sponsored by Betfair, was a resounding success, with Barry's protege Carl Frampton (15-0, 10KOs) being named Boxer of the Year. Tonight, Frampton faces the toughest test of his career when he meets Kiko Martinez (26) in Belfast to dispute the European super bantamweight belt. The Spanish boxer (27-3, 19KOs) took just 84 seconds to dismantle champion Bernard Dunne six years ago and is now being promoted by reigning WBC world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
Does Frampton expect Kiko to have improved under new management? "I expect he'll be fired up," says The Jackal. "He's trained harder than he's ever done because they took him to America to work with Sergio's coach."
Frampton is aware that Martinez knocks guys out late in fights as well as early. "He's going to come forward throwing big bombs," says Frampton.
"I just have to be ready for him. I can out-box this guy. Once I hit him we'll see how eager he'll be to come at me."
Betfair make Frampton 2/9 favourite tonight with Martinez at 9/2.
Another highlight of tonight's packed card at the Odyssey will be Andy Lee's (28-2, 20KOs) first bout since losing in El Paso to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in June.
Relocated from Detroit to London, Lee meets improving Dubliner Anthony Fitzgerald (13-3, 4KOs) who predicts: "The underdog will be the top dog."