Thursday 23 November 2017

Watch - Crowd erupts as the 'Jackal Army' takes over Las Vegas during Carl Frampton's weighs in

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 27: WBA featherweight champion Carl Frampton poses on the scale during his official weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 27, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Frampton will defend his title against Leo Santa Cruz on January 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 27: WBA featherweight champion Carl Frampton poses on the scale during his official weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 27, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Frampton will defend his title against Leo Santa Cruz on January 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Sean McGoldrick

The 'Jackal Army' took over the Las Vegas Grand Garden Arena as their hero Carl Frampton weighed in ahead of the first defence of his WBA World featherweight title against former champion Leo Santa Cruz.

Former WBC world bantamweight champion and Olympic silver medallist Wayne McCullough and Northern Ireland soccer boss, Michael O'Neill together with thousands of Frampton fans, who had travelled from Ireland for the showdown, crowded into the fight venue for the ceremonial event.

There was a raucous atmosphere as Frampton – who bowed to the crowd as he arrived on stage - stepped on the scales. He was one pound under the 126 pound weight limit, as was Santa Cruz.

Yet the extraordinary show of support for Frampton must have caused unease in the Santa Cruz camp as more than two hours before the scheduled weigh-in, Frampton's fans were chanting his name as they queued outside the boxing arena inside the MGM complex.

After all this was supposed to be a 'home' fight for the Mexican-American. It's just a four hour drive from Las Vegas to his family home in Los Angeles whereas the distance between Sin City and Belfast is 4,861 miles. But it is likely that the bulk of his fans will travel on fight day.

Since moving up to the featherweight division, making the weight hasn't been such an ordeal for Frampton, as his mentor and manager Barry McGuigan explained.

“It's makes a massive difference to him to be fighting at featherweight. He finished the last couple of years of his career as a featherweight – but we boiled him down to make super bantamweight," stated McGuigan.

“Shane (McGuigan) is a genius at nutrition but as you get older your body thickens and it just gets more difficult to make the weight. The last year and a half of his campaign at super bantamweight was very very difficult for him.

“I'm glad he was moved up because he is enjoying his boxing again, punching harder than ever before. For the first time in three or four years in training he knocked out two sparring partners and they were big guys. He's looking a million dollars; he will be 30 in a few weeks and he is getting better,” said McGuigan.

According to his son Shane – who is Frampton's trainer – not being preoccupied about making the weight meant their training camp was more productive and enjoyable.

But nothing was left to chance. Frampton was on the scales eight times in the 24 hours prior to the weigh-in. Even though it didn't take place until late afternoon Las Vegas time he was fasting from the night before.

Once he stepped off the scales he started to hydrate again before eating his big meal. “Obviously fighters are nervous before a big fight but when they eat carbohydrates it calms them down and they are more relaxed,” he explained.

For Frampton, it's just another day at the office. “I will just chill out and maybe walk around a bit. But mostly I will conserve energy.

“It is going to be an outstanding fight and I want to send all my fans home happy.”

The Frampton camp received another boost on the eve of the fight following the announcement that Carl had been voted Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers' Association of America while Shane McGuigan was named their 2016 Trainer of the Year

They will be presented with their awards at the association's annual awards dinner in New York on March 16, 24 hours ahead of Michael Conlan's professional debut in Madison Square Garden.

But there was disappointment for Wales' Lee Selby who was due to defend his IBF World featherweight title on the same bill as Frampton-Santa Cruz. His opponent Jonathan Victor Barros from Argentina pulled out of the contest have failed to appear at yesterday's press conference.

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