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PUNCH LINE

Barry McGuigan has proved he has managerial and promotional talent to match his famous boxing skills.

McGuigan has long believed that Carl Frampton's skill, style and personality will make him a major star in America. And he's pain-stakingly been guiding his protégé towards boxing's big-time.

Along the way, Frampton has won the British title, the Commonwealth title, and the European title. Now as world champion, the Belfast fighter is set to take an important step that has eluded most fighters.

He's 27. His record is 19 unbeaten with 13 knock-outs. He's the IBF world super bantamweight champion. Now Frampton is set to become boxing's new poster boy.

McGuigan has staged a massive coup by arranging for Frampton's first title defence on February 28 be screened live by ITV, the first live fight on terrestrial TV since 2010. When McGuigan's working relationship with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom ended, the concern was that Frampton would suffer from not having his fights screened on Sky Sports. McGuigan, who learned his footwork in the ring, ducked that problem by hooking up with Frank Warren and the BoxNation channel.

As Frampton's progress continued, the Odyssey was deemed too small a venue for the world title decider with Kiko Martinez, so McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions took a risk by staging the event on the Titanic slipway. It was a spectacular success.

Announcing the new ITV deal, McGuigan said, "We started in the Ulster Hall back in 2010 (when Frampton was 7-0) and it's been a meteoric rise since."

Ahead of The Jackal's defence against Chris Avalos, McGuigan adds: "Carl is the real deal. He can win fights any way he wants. He's an exciting fighter. Armchair fans are going to love him."

Avalos (25-2, 19 KOs) is a more experienced pro than Frampton. "He's not special," insists the Californian who plans to spoil the party.


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