After months of Sky TV hype and five years of speculation linking the pair, Belfast-native Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg must finally deliver a fight to match the anticipation that has surrounded their world-title unification bout tonight.
The combatants took to the scales at a colourful weigh-in which was attended by a vocal four-figure crowd at the Manchester Arena fight venue yesterday afternoon, with both successfully making the 122lb super-bantamweight limit.
Since their rivalry kicked off 5½ years ago, it has been littered with trash talk, mainly between the fighters’ backroom teams.
It took months of negotiations to make the fight, and the latest divisive topic to cause rancour between the sides this week has been the issue of who will occupy the “star” dressing room at the arena in preparation for the fight.
While that farcical debate may be indicative of the ridiculousness that so often surrounds big-time boxing, this fight is a relatively modern rarity in the sense that it is a genuinely competitive match-up between two top boxers.
“It doesn’t matter to us; when that bell rings that’s what matters to us,” said Frampton’s manager and mentor Barry McGuigan of the shenanigans.
“Our man is in incredible condition, and when that bell rings he’s going to walk in and take this guy’s title.”
WBA belt holder Quigg has described the meeting as his date with destiny, while IBF champion Frampton said: “It will change my life, my whole family’s life.
“This is the start of massive things, and after I get rid of Scott Quigg, it’ll take off.”
Frampton is expected to have the bulk of the 20,000-capacity support, and a large contingent of travelling Irish support were present at yesterday’s weigh-in.
“It’s going to be unbelievable, electric,” said Frampton. “I’m used to big atmospheres, Quigg isn’t – it might faze him but we’ll see.
“I’m ready, and I’ve been ready for so long. I’ve wanted this fight for a long time now – five years.”
Frampton is the bookies’ favourite and that seems a logical fact when considering that he has displayed talented skills since he was an amateur, while he has physically developed and improved his skills over an undefeated 21-0 pro career since 2009.
Quigg (31-0 and a powerful puncher) is also unbeaten, although his record is slightly blemished by two draws, and the 29-year-old usually fights in a fairly one-dimensional pressure style.
In contrast, Frampton has shown that he can box off the back foot as well as a more aggressive style, often displaying fancy footwork and good shot selection when demonstrating his own power.
“I don’t think he’s tough enough to walk Carl down,” said Frampton’s trainer Shane McGuigan, Barry’s son.
Quigg and his trainer
have continually expressed their own confidence, but the Bury man looked slightly drained at yesterday’s weigh in, and both fighters must undergo a 10lb “checkweight” this morning to ensure neither man weighs more than 132lb.
The dressing room drama has also added another level of somewhat amusing intrigue to the proceedings.
Frampton claims he is “the star of the show”, but with Quigg keen to take the “home” dressing room the row seems to be a wind-up effort.
“We don’t give a toss about the dressing room,” claimed Barry McGuigan yesterday. “We’ve already relented on it.
“We held out because we knew it would offend them because he was so superstitious and so nervous.
“We knew it would upset him and it did and he showed a weakness.”
A member of Frampton’s backroom team later claimed the issue was not yet resolved.
McGuigan, meanwhile, maintained that Frampton won the most important pre-fight battle in ensuring that only one English official will have a say.
Pittsburgh's Ernie Sharif will act as referee, while two of the three ringside judges are also American, with one English official (Dave Parris, Leeds). Team Frampton was keen to avoid any chance of bias towards Bury's Quigg.
All of the sideshows will end with the opening bell, however, when the fighters take centre-stage.