Carl Frampton v Scott Quigg: Two little men ready to take a giant leap to rule the world
IBF and WBA super-bantamweight titles. Manchester Arena, 27 February, 10,45pm.
Carl Frampton tugged at his cheek, twitched and ran his finger around his collar. It was his first press conference having just signed with manager Barry McGuigan in 2009.
The 5ft 5' boxing maestro is at ease with his ability and what he brings to the ring. Frampton can sense that tonight in the Manchester Arena he can leave a virtuoso mark on the British boxing landscape.
It is not that Frampton has lost any of his innate humility, only that he would dearly love to show the world his full repertoire before 19,000 fans and many more on television who will be baying for an Oscar-winning spectacle from the Belfast man and his rival Scott Quigg. An ounce separated them on the scales, many believe it could be a hair's breadth at the final bell.
The two men locked eyes like two stags for the ritual head-to-head, only to be ended by Frampton blowing a kiss in his rival's direction. Let the show begin was the signal, I'm relaxed and ready.
Today he will sit back and watch Ireland against England in the Six Nations having spent some time with wife Christine, daughter Carla and son Rossa before making his way to the stage for a battle that has captured British boxing and beyond. Two undefeated champions, Frampton the holder of the IBF belt and Quigg the WBA and both believing they are worthy of being the headline act of the 122lb division.
Frampton, who will walk to the ring in his new eye-catching white leather attire, is the slight betting favourite - largely down to his natural boxing ability, while Quigg has arrived at this point through sheer determination to hone himself into a world class fighter.
Not that Frampton's road has been any easier, it is simply that he has been able to build a career on God-given talent allied to a defiant mentality second to none.
Just how tonight will unfold will partly be down to who can enjoy the spotlight and having had the weight of expectation of a country on his shoulders for at least two years, it is safe to say that the 29-year-old Belfast man will not falter in that department.
"I've got the better boxing brain and deep down Quigg knows that. In the same way before every press conference and every media event he is programmed by his coach Joe Gallagher and his team to know what to say, Quigg is programmed about how to fight. He can only fight the one way. He says he will win by KO because he has to convince himself," said Frampton.
As he left yesterday's weigh-in at the Manchester Arena the Northern Ireland hero had the swagger of a showman embracing his stage and ready to perform.
"There's a lot being made about how hard he punches but once he gets hit he will go into his shell and I'll outbox him until he gets brave enough to open up and when he does he'll get knocked out.
"But if he stays tight and keeps his hands to his chin it may go the distance but if it does it's a comprehensive points win for me," he added.
"This is the easiest I've made the weight but he looks a bit gaunt. This week I did three sweat sessions, that's all. I went for a walk, did one session each day, everything has been right - everything has fallen into place. I've had the longest training camp, the best training camp and I feel great. I'm loving this.
"Obviously it's a more important fight than I've ever been in before but I've been involved in big fights where there has been a lot of media attention but this is all new for Quigg and I think this week we've seen a lot - we've seen a lot of weaknesses."
Quigg, of course, is adamant that his admirable desire to succeed will see him nullify Frampton's swashbuckling assaults.
"The fear of losing is what drives me on and that is why I do what I do and I love what I do," says Quigg.
"I respect him as a fighter, but the best Carl Frampton can't touch the best Scott Quigg.
"To become unified champion is what I want to be. I have come into boxing to be world champion and because I've achieved that, I don't stop there.
"I set new goals and that is what keeps the drive, the dedication and the focus there every day I wake up. It is about moving forward and getting better."
Tonight Quigg may well walk into the first roadblock to such progress and one wonders how the Bury man will react if he simply cannot make an early dent on Frampton who - unlike in El Paso seven months ago - will be switched on from the sound of the opening bell.
Not every fight will live up to the hyperbole, drama can never be guaranteed but it would be a surprise if we do not leave the Manchester Arena having witnessed a fascinating duel between two men with concussive power.
As the great MC Michael Buffer roared at yesterday's weigh-in, "Somebody's 0 has to go!" On this night I expect it to be Quigg with Frampton winning clearly on the scorecards after a tension-filled encounter.
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