Carl Frampton unified the IBF/WBA Super-bantamweight world titles with a split decision victory over Scott Quigg on Saturday night.
The atmosphere was electric in the Manchester Arena but the fight itself failed to ignite into the all-action classic it was billed as and was a very cagey affair.
Boxing behind his jab and utilising his movement and angles, Frampton took many of the early rounds on the scorecards as Quigg seemed content to block punches from behind his high guard while failing to impose himself on the fight.
Frampton looked comfortable, using his counter punching skills to take the lead at the midway point of the fight. He had boxed clever and was trying to lure Quigg onto his power punches, but the Bury fighter was resonant in his own game plan. Unfortunately it was a strategy that was not conducive to winning rounds.
Quigg boxed with a greater sense of urgency from the eighth round on which had a lot to do with the advice in between rounds from his trainer Joe Gallagher who told Quigg that according to the Sky Sports commentary team he was some way behind on the score cards.
Quigg began to press Frampton taking the ninth and tenth rounds as the action levels began to rise. It was really only during the championship rounds that the fight came alive. Both fighters began to unload heavy punches but neither seem fazed by the others power.
In the eleventh, Frampton seemed to tire as Quigg marched forward eager to land a knockout blow, but the Belfast man proved he had an iron chin and in a testament to his strength and conditioning he rallied in the twelfth round to seal the victory.
Two of the judges scored it 116-112 in favour of Frampton with the other scoring it 115-113 in favour of Quigg. Many spectators were bemused at the scoring in favour of Quigg, but judging a boxing contest is subjective and the lone judge may have favoured Quigg’s defensive style and his ability to block shots in the early rounds. Regardless of the scoring, Frampton was the deserved winner, despite the fight not living up to its full potential.
In the aftermath of the fight it was revealed Quigg had suffered a broken jaw as a result of a Frampton uppercut he absorbed in the fourth. His recovery may stall an immediate return to the ring, but it seems a rematch with Frampton is unlikely for the moment. However there are opportunities for him to regain a world title.
Domestic rival Gavin McDonnell who won the WBC silver belt on the night could be a potential future opponent, and with both WBC super-bantamweight champion Hugo Ruiz (35-3, 32 KOs) blitzing Julio Ceja in one round and featherweight Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1 18 KOS) stopping Kiko Martinez in the fifth round of an epic slugfest on the same night there are opportunities for Quigg and his promoter Eddie Hearn to build towards in the future.
With the win Frampton becomes the first Irishman to unify world titles in any division. The next challenge will be to hold on to both titles. The WBA has already ordered that the winner of Frampton-Quigg must defend their title against the undefeated WBA “champion in recess,” Guillermo Rigondeaux by the 27th July. The IBF have also stipulated the winner must also face the mandatory challenger Shingo Wake for the belt, which could result in Frampton having to vacate one of the titles he currently holds.
For boxing fans a clash with Rigondeaux is the obvious choice, the Cuban is a two-time Olympic champion and is regarded as the best super-bantamweight and pound for pound one of the best fighters on the planet. If Frampton wants to secure his own legacy a showdown with Rigondeaux is a must.