‘It’s done’ - Carl Frampton stands by McGuigan comments

Irish boxer dismisses concerns over links to suspected crime boss Daniel Kinahan

Carl Frampton's refusal to play down the momentous consequences of victory against Jamel Herring is an endearing break from sporting convention. The Belfast boxer exudes confidence and conviction about the prospect of becoming a world champion in three weight divisions when he faces Herring on the rearranged date of April 3rd.

“It’s massive,” says Frampton. “I am already very proud of what I’ve done in my career but to become a three-weight world champion . . . nobody on the island of Ireland has ever done that, you would join an elite list of British fighters that have done it. It would be special. Imagine your kids being able to say in 20 years’ time that their da’ was a three-weight world champion. It’s huge for me, it really is.

“There’s just something different about this one. I have a real belief that I’m going to beat this guy. That’s not me taking him for granted, I just have a strong confidence that I’m going to win. I’m really up for it and I believe I’ll win the fight. I don’t believe in destiny and all that stuff but this just feels right. It’s much more of a legacy-defining fight for me than it is for him. I feel like it’s going to happen.”

Frampton’s brand of self-analysis is fascinating. By rights he can already consider his achievements on a global stage worthy of great satisfaction. It feels as if turning 34 recently somehow intensifies his drive. That and, perhaps, the lofty status Northern Ireland affords its sporting legends.


“People say you shouldn’t care too much about how others see you but I do,” he says. “I want to be remembered very fondly as a good fighter, a good person. I want to be remembered a very long time from now. I’m not consumed by vanity but I don’t want to be a flash in the pan, where people forget about my achievements.”

Little more than two years ago, Frampton considered his boxing in the past tense. Defeat against Josh Warrington triggered what ultimately – and thankfully – wasn't defining dejection. "In my head for two weeks I was a retired fighter," Frampton recalls. "Then I just sat down and had a think rationally about things. It wasn't a case of me being over the hill, it was a bad performance on the night and that happens at the top level in sport.

“I thought it would be a shame to end my career on a sour note like that. I felt like I could win another world title again. I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t have that belief. I’m within touching distance of it now.”

He admits that one day, in the not-so-distant future, the show will indeed have to stop. “Thirty was the age I wanted to retire at for a long time. A lot of that was down to not enjoying boxing. I don’t want to go on too long, I won’t be boxing at 40, I don’t even think I’ll be boxing at 36, so I’m not too far from the end. Still a wee bit left to give but not too much more.

“I haven’t been in too many brutal fights but the training camps take it out of you. They have a massive impact on your body. I want to have a long life after boxing with my wife and kids. Wear and tear and the brutality of training camps take their toll. I genuinely believe the real hard training camps could take years off your life. It’s so intense.”

Concussion injuries, such a key theme across sport now, resonate with Frampton far more than they did in his youth. “You just mature and understand things a bit more. I’ve adapted my training methods, I don’t spar as much as I used to.”

Frampton’s next phase – he is already a popular pundit – will be far less agonising. “I’d say two weeks after my last fight, I won’t ever have a six-pack again in my life. I struggle to put my socks on in the morning. That’s what happens when you don’t start stretching until you reach 30.”

If Covid and a hand injury have obscured the buildup to the Jackal’s latest return, there was an added level of complexity. A lengthy court battle between Frampton and Barry McGuigan, another of Irish boxing’s favourite sons, was concluded in November. McGuigan had been Frampton’s long-time manager.

In a recent podcast Frampton said of McGuigan and his sons that he “wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire”, and he insists now: “I wouldn’t take that statement back. There was genuine trust there for a long time. I loved these people, they were groomsmen at my wedding, I was groomsman at Shane McGuigan’s wedding.

“It’s an absolute shame what happened but it is what it is. That’s life, I suppose. I can laugh about it. I just don’t want to have anything to do with these people anymore but it’s not as if I’m sitting here seething every day. The relationship is dead. I’m not going to dwell on it. It’s done.

“I was actually starting to enjoy court, going down there every day having been cross-examined – I was happy with how that went – and watching other people having the same. There were a lot of funny incidents. I had mates watching it via a link most days and they were really upset when the settlement happened, they had nothing else to do again.”

Still, Frampton in hindsight feels “a weight was lifted” by the case ending.

The elephant in the ring now relates to management matters of a different kind, with the suspected crime boss Daniel Kinahan’s attachment to the sport the subject of a recent Panorama documentary. Frampton is registered with MTK, the firm with which Kinahan has been associated. “I don’t really want to talk about it,” says Frampton. “It’s ‘investigative journalism’ but I don’t know how much investigation was done.” Frampton is dismissive rather than remotely uneasy on the subject.

Frampton understandably backs away from traces of negativity. The scale of his cross-community support in Northern Ireland, for example, has had an impact beyond boxing. He smiles when recalling, aged 11, spending six weeks with a family in Texas as part of a project for working-class youngsters. “People thought Northern Ireland was thatched roof cottages and men running about the streets with guns. That’s the impression they had.

“There is always a bit of tension bubbling under the surface and I don’t think the politicians do us any favours. There is still a green or orange vote and we are a generation away from ruling that out. But it is a much better place than when I was a kid. And when I was growing up in Belfast, it was a much better place than when my dad was growing up in Belfast. We are getting there.”

Frampton has dedicated almost 30 years of his life to boxing. “If someone had told me I’d win a world title then lost it in my first defence, I’d have taken that. This is way, way beyond anything I could have imagined. But I am desperate for this third weight.”

Even Frampton’s words pack a stout punch. - Guardian