It has been a long journey for Finbar Patrick McGuigan. It is a road that that took two decades with many ups and downs along the way, and now the boxing Hall of Famer and former featherweight world champion best known as Barry McGuigan, “The Clones Cyclone,” has finally discovered and developed a world champion in his career as manager of fighters.
That Carl Frampton was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland where McGuigan’s most memorable fights took place at the Kings Hall, is vying for the championship in the same weight class in which McGuigan campaigned, and is trained by his son Shane, makes the journey that much more satisfying.
The unbeaten Irish sensation Frampton, known as “The Jackel,” has reeled off 22 consecutive wins, 14 by knockout, with the father-son tandem managing his rise to stardom.
Frampton had unified the WBA and IBF junior featherweight world titles in February, by way of a split decision victory over Scott Quigg of England. He gave up his championships to move up in class to the Featherweight ranks to challenge world champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday night, July 30, at Barclays Center.
Frampton’s career has become a mirror image of McGuigan’s, who reeled off 27 straight wins after an early loss en route to the WBA Featherweight title in rousing, knockout fashion.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® will televise the highly-anticipated Frampton vs. Santa Cruz title clash.
“This is the fight I wanted, and I’m 100 percent confident that the belt will be coming home to Belfast,” said Frampton. “It’s the [same WBA] belt that my manager, Barry McGuigan, held 30 years ago, and it’s fitting that I will have the chance to recapture this title.”
The Tiger’s Bay area of Belfast is neighborhood of the working class, where Frampton began fighting in his youth at the Midland Boxing Club on a road which saw him rack up 114 as an amateur. The journey culminated in Irish Amateur Boxing Association titles in two divisions and a silver medal in the 2007 European Union Amateur Boxing Championships. Along the way, Frampton caught the eye of legendary Irish boxer Barry McGuigan, who would take over as Frampton’s manager in time to guide his charge to the professional ranks.
His title tilt against Santa Cruz will be Frampton’s second in America. The first time Frampton, 29, fought in the U.S., he traveled to El Paso, Texas, and won a unanimous decision over Alejandro Gonzalez, Jr. last July 7, 2015 to retain his title. His most recent action was the February 27 title-unifier over Quigg at Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom.
“Santa Cruz is a strong and aggressive undefeated champion, but his style is made for me,” added Frampton. “We’ve been chasing this fight for a long, long time, and that’s because we know we have the tools to beat Leo. He throws a lot shots and is a proven operator. It’s going to be a great fight.”
“It’s fantastic to be boxing in New York,” adds Frampton said. “It’s an incredible city with a massive Irish community who I hope get behind me for this fight. There’ll be a lot of people traveling over from Belfast and the whole of the U.K. and Ireland as well, so I’m expecting a good atmosphere on July 30.”
Santa Cruz, 27, previously held the bantamweight and junior featherweight titles. He decisioned fellow Los Angeles rival Abner Mares to take the vacant featherweight title last August. Santa Cruz then made his first title defense on February 27 in Anaheim, California, with a fifth round knockout victory over Kiko Martinez, the former featherweight champ. Note that Frampton has defeated Martinez two times, including for the world championship on September 6, 2014 in Belfast.
“This is going to be a cracking fight,” said Hall of Famer McGuigan. “Their styles complement each other so well, so the real winner will be the fans. It is going to be a tough fight for both men, but I’m very confident that Carl will be able to impose his style on Santa Cruz and win this fight convincingly.”
The story of Shane McGuigan is another in itself. The youthful, 27-year-old trainer handles not only Frampton, but highly-regarded heavyweight David Haye and WBA International super middleweight kingpin George Groves, and is a chip off the old block.