THE day of the Carl Frampton-Scott Quigg weigh-in, the day before war, is tense. Even the local cabbies can feel it. Moments after taking one look at my Manchester hotel and informing me “it’s a knocking shop”, the taxi driver talks passionately about the city which hosts the enticing super-bantamweight showdown.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had this many flat noses in town,” he chuckles while executing the kind of U-turn that should result in a 10-year driving ban. “It’s been like the days of Ricky Hatton this week.”
There is certainly something in the air. Rarely has there been such a united division between two camps, and the bad blood can be keenly felt. The promotional teams are winding each other up, the trainers can barely cope with breathing the same air, and the fighters’ focus on destroying the enemy is unnerving. As a consequence, paranoia is running amok ahead of the 122lb unification scrap; both camps have accused the media of favouring the other, and seem a little too concerned that they are being treated unfairly.
One day after the camps engaged in their umpteenth pre-fight squabble, this time about who gets the ‘Home’ dressing room, the fighters strip down to their pants, unveil ripped-to-the-bone physiques, jump on the scales – each make weight with 3/4lb to spare – and howl their final battle cries. Behind them the trainers have yet another disagreement. Shane McGuigan, Frampton’s trainer, objects that Joe Gallagher, Quigg’s trainer, is standing too close. Gallagher doesn’t budge and, with machismo boiling, shoves McGuigan, who in turn calls his counterpart a “prucking fick”, whatever that is.
With Michael Buffer in auto-pilot, and an excitable Eddie Hearn encouraging the crowd’s screams for blood, it’s time to position the two fighters in each other’s gaunt faces. What follows is intense. The emaciated rivals lock eyes. Quigg looks like he could stare through the skull of his rival all day long. Frampton, after approximately two minutes of pupil warfare, blows a kiss and looks away. It does not appear to be a sign of weakness, though, or a phase of battle lost. Instead, it seems like he just wants to move on.
“I am better than him,” Frampton says. “I have the power to knock him out, from the first round to the last round, and I’ve also got the boxing brain to comprehensively beat him on points.”
Quigg, still smiling that vacant assassin smile, repsonds: “I respect him as a fighter, but the best Carl Frampton can’t touch the best Scott Quigg.”
The pre-fight hoopla has been a blast, but we’ve seen enough now. All that’s left to do is fight.