Carl Frampton has become a unified IBF and WBA super-bantamweight champion of the world after defeating Scott Quigg by split decisionA sold out Manchester Arena witnessed the 29 year old successfully defend his IBF crown and claim the WBA world title with scores of 116–112, 116–112 and 113–115.
An electric atmosphere was generated from a 50:50 split crowd setting the stage for what had all the makings of a modern classic. The fight promised to be one of the biggest unification bouts in the history of British boxing and after four years in the making, it was always going to be a tense affair.
The Northern Irishman managed to take control in some cagey early rounds while Quigg struggled to find his range. The use of the jab was simple but effective in the opening exchanges allowing Frampton to ghost into an early lead in an opening half of the fight that seemed to pass by unnoticed.
From the fifth onwards, the bout began to liven up to the pre match hype with Quigg starting to throw some more adventurous shots as he grew into the fight. Two devastating overhand rights in the fifth and sixth were signs that the 27 year old was very much in the contest as he began claw back the rounds from Frampton who it seemed had raced into a lead.
The Jackal continued to exert his dominance off the back foot, using his boxing brain to good effect with more use of the counter jab but with one eye firmly on the right hand of Quigg which was starting to bring some success the longer the fight went on.
As the bell rang to signal the end of the sixth, boos began to echo around the arena. Frustration from the expectant 20,000 bumper crowd making themselves heard as they struggled to work out the Quigg game plan, while Frampton continued to extend his lead on the scorecards creating an exhibition feel to a fight that promised so much more.
The energy from the crowd began to feed into the ring, as the seventh round started to look like the fight many expected from the get go. A wider stance from Quigg was just a subtle hint that more powerful shots were on the horizon as the local boy searched for the knock out that was already looking his best chance of victory just seven rounds in.
Frampton was able to weather the storm producing a defensive master-class, using counter punching to good effect to keep himself in contention for the round. Quigg continued to come forward in the eighth winning the round convincingly with another sharp right hand and a juddering uppercut that left its mark on Frampton as the tide began to turn.
In the final stages of the ninth, Quigg finally managed to work a telling opening. Another strong overhand right beating the Frampton guard left its mark before a solid left hood left him shaking on his feet and holding on for the bell which came to soon for the crowd who then sparked into life.
The Bury born man continued his assault into the tenth as it was clear Frampton hadn’t fully recovered from that devastating left. Finally the fight had become what many had dreamed it would be when it was announced November last year. Both fighters locked in the centre of the ring trading shots in the search for a knock out they both craved for so long as all tactics went out the window in a mad three minutes.
As the tenth flew by, the fight moved into the penultimate round which arguably became the best of the contest. Both fighters, seemingly forgetting about game plans and scorecards in a full blooded war of body shots and hooks, roared on by the now revitalised crowd. Frampton yet again found himself holding on in the closing seconds as two more huge rights from Quigg had the 29 year old against the ropes waiting for the bell and looking towards his corner for encouragement.
After a stern final rally cry from coach Shane McGuigan, it was back to basics for The Jackal who quickly went back on the defence in a bid to see out the final round. Quigg desperately tried one final attempt at working another opening but the Frampton defence yet again proved too strong as he was able to convincingly see himself home with the use of the counter punch that served him so well throughout.
The closing stages were once more dominated by Frampton who showed off his Ali-shuffle as a clear sign of confidence his arm would soon be raised by referee Ernie Sharif in a few moments time.
Following the final bell, both men embraced in a show of respect of what had been a pulsating final few rounds in a fight that took a long time to get going. The feeling in the ring was edging towards Frampton as he and his team celebrated in front of the travelling support who sung his name once more in jubilation.
After going to the scorecards, Frampton rightfully got the decision from two of the judges with scores of 116–112, however remarkably the third scored the bout 115–113 in favour of Quigg to the disbelief of many inside the arena and in particular the Frampton camp.
“The travelling support has been unbelievable — this isn’t Manchester, is it? Seems like it is Belfast.”
“I couldn’t believe it was a split. I don’t know what that lad was watching. He needs to take a long hard look at himself.” said Frampton.
Frampton’s updated record now stands at (22,0,0, 14KO’s) while Scott Quigg loses his unbeaten record which now sits at (32,1,2, 23KO’s).
When asked about the possibility of a rematch in the future, Frampton responded with:
“If I have to have a rematch and the public demands it, no problem, But I’d rather move on to bigger and better things. The world’s our oyster.”