Timing is everything in boxing
Sport

Timing is everything in boxing

IN the tense build-up to last Saturday's world title contest between Carl Frampton and Chris Avalos, a veteran of the fight-game provided some light relief.

With television programmers insisting that the ring entrance be delayed until just before 11.30pm, Frampton was asked if he was worried by the unusually late starting-time.  At which point, an old-time fight-fan, Ross Gillanders, piped up: "There's nothing unusual about 11.30 on a Saturday night!! Sure that's the time the pubs empty. Everyone in Belfast fights then."

Last Saturday proved an exception to the city's practices. The bars stayed open to allow its patrons watch one of their own successfully defend his title and send a message to his super bantamweight rivals. "I want to go further," Frampton said afterwards. "I want to unify the division and then win another belt at featherweight. I won't avoid anyone."

It will hardly be possible to duck out of the way of Scott Quigg, the Lancastrian who holds one of WBA's two versions of the super bantamweight championship. Unbeaten in 32 fights, and as tough as old boots, Quigg cannot compete with Frampton in terms of popularity, but would certainly put up a contest in the ring.

Already, the talk of a showdown has started. ITV, back in the game after a seven-year-absence, know they'd attract viewers if they secured the rites to this domestic dust-up. Both men, sick of each other's hype, want the fight to happen. Boxing fans would love to see it. Surely it's a done deal?

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Not in this game where the sport often gets in the way of business, something generation after generation of fighters learn to their cost. If money wasn't involved, a Quigg-Frampton showdown would take place tomorrow.

But Quigg is contracted to Eddie Hearn, who is contracted to Sky, while Frampton is Barry McGuigan's man and they have just jumped into bed with ITV.

To further complicate matters, Frampton is a box-office hit, selling tickets almost as fast as Ed Sheeran or One Direction whereas Quigg's shows are off-Broadway productions. On the face of it then, that should mean Belfast and should mean ITV.

Boxing isn't so simple, hence the reason why Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao took four years to complete the negotiations for their upcoming fight.   So while we wait for McGuigan and Hearn to finalise a deal, the discussion moves to whether Frampton is the real deal. David Haye certainly thinks so, telling ITV that the Belfast-man is the world's number one in the super bantamweight category.

Others argue the toss. A Cuban, Guillermo Rigondeaux, is 15-0 and has stopped ten of his opponents, including the Limerick-man, Willie Casey, inside the distance. Remarkably skilful, Rigondeaux has already demonstrated in his relatively short professional career that he has the tools to deal with whichever problems an opponent throws at him.

It was the punches Hisashi Amagasa threw in the seventh round of their clash in Osaka, Japan last New Year's Eve, which troubled him most. Twice they sent the Cuban to the canvas. But twice Rigondeaux got up, finally winning the fight in the 11th.

Managed by a Cork-man, Gary Hyde, he is willing to travel and do business. Already a face on American television, beating Rigondeaux would open up a whole new audience for Frampton.

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So too would a clash with Leo Santa Cruz, the WBC champion. Nine of his 29 professional fights have been world title contests. All nine ended convincingly in victory. When he hits, he hurts and at 26, he isn't going to slow down just yet.

All of which has to be considered by Team Frampton. He may have dismantled Avalos with power and class, he may be unbeaten in 20 contests and he may have the necessary equipment to take out anyone at his weight.

In championship terms, he remains a baby, and at this stage of his career a step up might be a step too far. Whereas if his negotiators could strike a deal with Quigg, a man he should be good enough to defeat, then he will be richer both in the pocket and in terms of experience.

At 28, time is on his side. He has a title. Now he wants his legacy; to get that he needs to meet and beat the best. In boxing timing is everything, outside the ring as well as in it. Quigg should be next, then Rigondeaux and then Santa Cruz. Win those three fights he can then retire with his legacy and financial future secured.