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Frampton and Santa Cruz Weigh In – Ready to rumble

By Steve Wellings, in Las Vegas 

Carl Frampton weighed in yesterday at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas and, just like his opponent Leo Santa Cruz, he made the 126 lb limit. Making weight is occasionally taken for granted in some quarters, only becoming a major factor when someone fails to slip inside the standard parameters. Here there was no catchweight nonsense, or 127.5 lb middle ground agreements – just a real fight at a real weight between two real combatants.

Skinning his frame down to a sprightly 125lbs, a weight which I haven’t “made” since I was about 8 years old, Carl appears to be revelling in his new featherweight mould. ‘El Terremoto’ meanwhile scaled the same at 125, so no issues were presented with his physique either.

There’s something primal about boxing weigh-ins. Hyped up supporters lean forward over barriers and scream with excitement as their charge stands on the scales, torso bubbling under the lack of body fat, flexing their muscles to the delight of the faithful. American security guards look on in bemusement at the fervour whipped up by this boxing formality.

“Caaaam ooon the Jackal!” shouts a middle-aged punter just behind me. Eyes bulging, belly spilling over his dark blue jeans, this chap might as well have gone through the through an intense 12-week training camp himself, such was the devotion. While my new friend was living every second, I was trying to be slightly more measured – more boring to be precise. But why not get swept up in the emotion of this occasion? After hours spent travelling across oceans and time zones surely it’s acceptable to punch the air and give it the big ‘un in the name of the Jackal.

The weigh-in as an event has become a real occasion for fans to enjoy. It provides one final opportunity to venerate and encourage a hero before he goes into war against the “enemy”. Santa Cruz isn’t so much of an enemy in this case; not really a villain at all in fact. Softly-spoken and apparently non-threatening in appearance (maybe Carl would disagree on that latter point) Leo seems like a thoroughly decent bloke. But he can fight and will no doubt put it all on the line later tonight.

Just before the weigh-in started there was a nice media luncheon provided as the weight-drained stick insects (also known as the boxers) no doubt looked on, salivating. Not many people have a kind word to say about show promoter Al Haymon. Lurking darkly in the shadows it’s hard to root for such an evasive and, at times, polarising, figure. But I’m willing to stick up for Al on this one – from a purely selfish point of view of course. Haymon’s PBC employees know how to look after the media and always put on a good spread. Sandwiches, pasta, coffee, cookies…OK, you get the point, but these things go a long way in boxing writing circles. Just ask Dan Rafael. I didn’t, mainly because he’s a unit, and he blocked me on Twitter and probably doesn’t care a jot about my eating habits or silly points of view. But he knows how to attack a quality buffet and I respect him for that.

Anyway, I digress, back to the weigh-in.

Sometimes the final days leading up to the fight give us the best opportunity to look at each man and really assess who you think is going to win. Both are, hopefully, at the peak of their powers by this point. Focused, prepared, sparring done, media all chatted too, obligations fulfilled and only one single thing left to accomplish.

Frampton struggled with super-bantamweight, no doubt, but weight will not be a factor tonight

“I see a bit more energy about Carl now and more left in the tank,” former world champion Brian Magee told me last week.

“For his size, height-wise, Carl could probably go up another weight because he’s got the power and the strength; it’s just a problem fighting the guys who are too tall for him. He’s handling them OK now though.”

Ex-British champion and one-time world title challenger Neil Sinclair concurred, citing Carl’s move up in weight as a key factor behind his resurgence -the Quigg fight aside- since the Gonzalez Jnr struggle in the desert.

“The extra four pounds have made a big difference for Carl as he’s not tiring late on now – he’s a lot stronger as the fight progresses,” agreed ‘Sinky’. “The extra pounds make you more comfortable and stronger when you’re down at the weight and drying out.”

One man who had most certainly dried out was IBF champion Lee Selby. Taking to the stage with almost translucent skin and a skeletal frame, Selby was understandably frustrated and emotional as he apologised to a small pocket of travelling Welsh fans for the fact that he would not be fighting. It wasn’t Selby’s fault, who had fulfilled all of his contractual obligations. Scheduled opponent Jonathan Barros had been forcibly removed by the Nevada Commission after reportedly testing positive for Hepatitis.

No problems, spats or medical conundrums to veer around for the main men, however. Thankfully Carlos and Leo are both primed and ready for action.

I suppose there’s only one thing left to say.

“Caaaam ooon the Jackal!”

Follow @stevenwellings


Was Josh Warrington right to swap Matchroom for Queensbury?

By Yousuf Ali

It was recently announced that WBC International featherweight champion Josh Warrington will sign for Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions. The relationship between Josh and Matchroom Boxing seemed to be extremely beneficial in respect to both parties, with Warrington steadily moving up the WBC rankings as well as gaining great exposure; additionally Eddie Hearn was frequently selling out arenas producing a “great atmosphere”. Therefore such a decision came as a shock to the British boxing scene. However, how much will this decision affect Warrington, Matchroom and Queensbury?

There have been a number of reasons put forward by Hearn, Steve Wood and Frank Warren in regard to why Warrington decided to leave Matchroom, irrespective of them there will be undoubted disadvantages in leaving Europe’s biggest promoter. It is evident that the Matchroom and Sky brand is important in not only obtaining invaluable exposure but also in driving ticket sales, illustrated by the Leeds arena being frequently sold out. In comparison Warren has shown an inability to sell out an arena, of substantial size, since Saunders vs Eubank, there will be an inevitable drop in ticket sales with Warren promoting the show. Additionally by moving over to Boxnation, Warrington will lose the backing of Sky sports that are pivotal in the success of Hearn’s promotions, as reflected in viewing figures, purses and ticket sales.  Although some may argue that Warren’s recent move to BT Sport will provide an equal alternative to Sky sports, the lack of boxing experience from BT and no a channel like Sky sports news means that such a move is littered with risk. Therefore it is evident that there a great deal of advantages in staying with Matchroom, although it is naïve to state that it is the only option as there are some limiting factors in being promoted by Hearn.

It is clear that the opponents Warrington was facing were lacking in excitement and skill; with Joel Brunker and Patrick Hyland being obvious examples. There is a tendency for Hearn to fail in bringing over world class opponents that test his fighters before they challenge for world titles, Stephen Smith being the current apparent example.  Despite Hearn failing to bring over world class opponents that would really test Warrington and create excitement, he did offer Warrington a shot at Lee Selby. Warrington, Steve Wood and Warrington’s father ought to take a great deal of blame for turning this fight down; after calling out Selby for over a year they bottled it when Hearn offered them the fight in July, absolutely disgraceful (rant over).  Consequently sympathy ought to be given to Hearn who has offered Warrington’s team the Selby fight; perhaps this was the start of the deterioration of Hearn and Warrington’s team relationship.

On the other hand Warren has a great opportunity to build boxing in Yorkshire and use Warrington as headliner in order to build his fighters, such as Tyrone Nurse, on the undercard. It is accurate to state that Leeds may be the most likely place for Warren to finally sell a reasonable amount of tickets and coupled with the partnership with BT sport, may result in greater revenue being generated in turn leading to some big name opponents travelling to the UK to face the Leeds warrior. Warrington is also inline for a WBC final eliminator against Joseph Diaz, which would be the perfect fight to both test Warrington and move him in the right direction in terms of fulfilling his ambitions to become a world champion.  One hopes that Warren will be able to put on some big shows in Leeds, where Josh Warrington is able to fully test his abilities and perhaps even become world champion.

Follow Yousuf @boxingubanter

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Photo Credits: Sky Sports & Matchroom Sports