Master of Ceremonies Michael Buffer glanced at the scorecard and raised the mic to his lips to announce the result. Referee Ernie Sharif held the gloves of both fighters. Moments earlier each had been held aloft by their respective corners. I actually chuckled when Quigg raised his hands at the final bell.
Surely he doesn’t think he’s won this fight?
“Judge Levi Martinez scores the bout...115-113.”
Wow, that’s a bit closer than I thought. Minutes before the announcement I’d posted a scorecard of 118-111 in Frampton’s favour, including words like “masterclass” and phrases such as “no rematch will be needed.” The two-point margin concerned me a little.
“...to Scott Quigg,” continued Buffer.
Eh?! I glanced across at a friend and colleague who had flown over to Manchester with me first thing Friday morning. He mirrored my dismay. The remaining judges posted their dual 116-112 totals and ‘The Jackal’ was rightly crowned. To say the split decision came as a surprise would be an understatement. The fight itself had certainly been tactical for the most part, as I expected early on, and at times bordered on negative and tepid as the rounds passed by. Quigg’s contribution appeared strangely indecisive and I struggled to reward him with too much of anything. While things always remained absorbing inside the arena I can sympathise with those watching at home who complained at the lack of spectacular action.
Frampton admitted afterwards that he knew it would be a boring fight but added, “you can’t say those things when it’s on pay-per-view.” Spot on Carl, you played your part in the build-up too, helping to create a facade of animosity with Quigg when I doubt it ever truly existed.
The Bury man does deserve credit for boxing on past the middle rounds with a broken jaw. I initially suspected the injury may have been a post-fight ruse trying to deflect from the fact that Quigg’s display had been relatively disappointing. Squinting over to top table, with Scott flanked by trainer Joe Gallagher and promoter Eddie Hearn, I struggled to make out any obvious swelling and Quigg seemed to be talking plainly enough. While not in the Arthur Abraham vs Edison Miranda category of broken jaws -as in, literally hanging off the face- X-rays did eventually bear out but using these things as an excuse for defeat is always a tenuous argument at best. You can’t really blame an injury that was inflicted by your opponent, legally, for pushing you off of a game plan. Injuring your opponent and finding ways to win is after all kind of the point.
Before I get too down on the whole show I must say that even though the main event may have been pretty tepid the atmosphere was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Don’t equate any of the fights on the entire card with the noise levels as they were as far apart as world class and Area title level. Having followed Frampton from before he even turned pro, through all of the Belfast nights, both indoor and out, down to Bernard Dunne’s brief world title reign in Dublin and even across to Las Vegas (Hopkins-De La Hoya in case you’re wondering), this spine tingling reception was unparalleled.
Frantically scurrying across ringside as soon as the scores had been announced, my pre-fight remit included grabbing a superstar celeb as quickly as possible, interviewing them, transcribing and firing across before deadline. Tyson Fury had disappeared, Amir Khan had already been snatched by Sky Sports and a burly security guard’s beefy bicep made sure I wasn’t getting anywhere near
The deadline had long passed by the time I found some willing interviewees. At least they all confirmed that my scoring, although perhaps slightly wide, had at least found the correct winner. Here’s a quick snippet.
Reigning IBF super-middleweight world champion James DeGale:
“I thought Frampton definitely won. If I’m being brutally honest I thought he won handily. Frampton can go to America and get all the titles with Al Haymon. Santa Cruz is there and let’s not swerve Rigondeaux. There are massive fights out there for Carl now. Scott can come back, that’s nothing to him, he’ll be back. A case can be made for the rematch, it was a competitive fight but I thought Frampton won.”
Former world title challenger and now part of Team cyclone, George Groves:
“I made the 116-112 scorecard about right and I felt there were a lot of close rounds that Carl was edging but Quigg came on strong in the latter part of the fight. Frampton finished better though and won the 12th round. I’d like to see them go their own way for a little while and then maybe come back together in future. Let’s be honest, it was a real cagey affair after a lot of hype and stress.
“I would like to see Carl move on from here and maybe fight Rigondeaux. That’s a lovely fight. I’ve only known him [Frampton] intimately for a short amount of time but I know that he’s a fearsome fighter who can fight anyone. It’s a fantastic team and I’m chuffed to be part of it. Rigo’s a fantastic fight but Carl’s a massive super-bantam so he might move up.
Steve has been writing about boxing since 2005. He covers the Irish scene by regularly contributing to a variety of publications including Boxing News Magazine and the Sunday Life. He is a panel member of the Boxing Asylum podcast and writes the Irish Boxing Review books with five released so far.