'Box-office fights' on horizon for Frampton
Manchester was bathed in green as 10,0000 fans from Northern Ireland rejoiced after Carl Frampton defeated Scott Quigg in their world-title unification bout on Saturday night and settled the long-standing dispute over who was the superior super-bantamweight.
A fight that captured public imagination was settled emphatically as Frampton's more advanced boxing skills earnt him a deserved split decision over Bury-based Quigg.
In the dressing room afterwards, Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney was one of the first to console Quigg, who lost his WBA crown to the IBF champion. The Irishman put that down to Quigg not wanting to commit to the battle early. He was probably right.
Promoter Eddie Hearn revealed Quigg was in tears after his first loss in his 34th fight, which the judges scored 115-113, and 116-112 (twice).
Of the exchange with Rooney, Quigg joked: "He said to keep my chin up - I said I'd have to keep it straight first." Quigg's jaw was broken by a fourth-round upper-cut and he had surgery yesterday.
"Wayne was just saying he has lost a Champions League final and it hurts - but you have to learn from it and come back stronger. I'm killing inside, absolutely devastated. But I'll come back and I'll be better for it."
Quigg admitted that fourth-round punch made him cautious, with him beginning his assault on Frampton in the eighth. Prior to that he was out-thought and outboxed by 'The Jackal', who said he felt comfortable as he took the first half of the fight with his jab and occasional attacks. Quigg needed a knockout or stoppage, before which he had no answer to Frampton's ring generalship.
As a wall of noise reverberated around the venue afterwards, both men agreed a rematch was possible, but Frampton and his team - manager Barry McGuigan and his son, promoter Blain McGuigan - said that they would be looking to fight Mexican Léo Santa Cruz, who defended the WBA featherweight championship yesterday.
Frampton said: "If I have to have a rematch and the public demands it, no problem. But I'd rather move on to bigger and better things."
"We need to step it up another level now," Barry McGuigan agreed. "Léo Santa Cruz is the obvious fight ... It would be great if we could get him over here. Belfast would be wonderful.
"What we want now for Carl is box-office fights ... That might be a featherweight fight with Lee Selby [the Welshman who holds a version of the world featherweight title], Gary Russell, or even Guillermo Rigondeaux."
Santa Cruz would provide an exciting match-up for Frampton, while up one weight division, the Cuban Rigondeaux, still considered the No 1 super-bantamweight, must be on the Belfast man's bucket list.
"I knew it would be boring," teased Frampton afterwards as he stood smiling with Barry McGuigan.
From Quigg's viewpoint, why did nobody at ringside in his camp get up after three apathetic rounds and go to the corner to scream for change?
Why did Quigg not realise he was not doing any work? Why did Joe Gallagher, his trainer, not read the riot act after three or four rounds of non-contact? Gallagher thought it was close after five rounds, which shows just how blind the most celebrated of boxing people can be. It was not close; it was a tactical massacre.
At the end, when McGuigan's joyous clan embraced in tears, the dejected duo of Gallagher and Eddie Hearn, Quigg's promoter, could barely raise their eyes from the floor. How did the pair not notice the calamity unfolding? Did they all, as seems to be the case, really think that in round 11 Frampton would suddenly fall over from the slightest glancing blow?
There was no urgency and for that inexcusable lapse everybody in the Quigg business needs to take a long hard look in the mirror this morning. The last eight rounds did not make Quigg's contribution to the fight memorable because of a broken jaw, but the first seven rounds did make it unforgivable.
This was not a masterclass from Frampton; it was a bad performance from Quigg and his misjudgement was matched by the scoring of one official who insulted everybody by voting for him. He should never work again.
Quigg will have to get his head straight to work again at this level and Frampton is looking to move up 4lb to featherweight when he fights in America next. (© Daily Telegraph, London)