Friday 15 December 2017

Boxing needs some of McGregor's charisma

Charismatic MMA fighter Conor McGregor
Charismatic MMA fighter Conor McGregor

Eamonn Sweeney

Carl Frampton's win over Scott Quigg was a bit like the general election. After all the fuss of the build-up the event itself proved oddly unsatisfying. Expecting things to be conclusively decided one way or the other, we were left with a feeling of unfinished business.

That's not to take away from Frampton's achievement in retaining his IBF world title for the third time - he's now done it more often than his manager Barry McGuigan. But, as he said himself, it was a boring fight.

Quigg, in particular, was very tentative until late in the contest and Frampton's victory was far more comprehensive than the split decision suggests. The scoring of the judge who thought Quigg won is the oddest thing to happen since Lucinda Creighton woke up one morning and decided the world was in need of Renua.

There's no denying that Frampton's achievement is superior in athletic terms to that of Conor McGregor. It's not McGregor's fault but the lack of depth in MMA was graphically displayed by the fact that the best they could do once Rafael dos Anjos had pulled out was a fighter who'd lost three of his last five bouts. The thought occurs that one reason for the manic nature of McGregor's theatricality is that he knows he's in the business of making a commercial silk purse out of a competitive sow's ear.

Yet watching Frampton-Quigg, Furey-Klitschko and Mayweather-Pacquaio you could see why there is a turn towards Mixed Martial Arts. You don't need to be a bloodthirsty maniac to have found something lacking in the big hyped boxing contests. Right now boxing could do with a few McGregor-type figures, fighters whose charisma matches their talent. There are great boxers out there - Roman Gonzalez at flyweight, Sergey Kovalev at light heavyweight, Gennady Golovkin at middleweight and Guillermo Rigondeaux at super bantamweight - but they could walk down most streets in the world without being recognised.

Rigondeaux only turned professional at the age of 28 but has looked a class apart in his weight division these past few years. Frampton is the only fighter there who might trouble him and indeed the Irishman has been ordered to make his next title defence against the Cuban by the WBA. However, in the aftermath of last weekend's fight McGuigan was making noises that suggested Frampton would duck the challenge of Rigondeaux and vacate that portion of the world title he won from Quigg, "He's negative. What do we gain by fighting him?"

Rigondeaux responded by tweeting, "Real boxing fans shouldn't have love for fake champs. Vacating a title is the coward's way out. Are you a coward Carl Frampton?" Patriotic fervour should not blind us to the fact that Rigondeaux has right on his side. It is the Cuban's talent rather than his style that McGuigan fears. If Frampton does run scared, there's one thing we can say for definite - Conor McGregor wouldn't do it.

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