A quarter of a century on from winning his World title Irish boxing legend Barry McGuigan believes he has unearthed a new star in the shape of Belfast's Carl Frampton.
The unbeaten Super Bantamweight has won all 5 of his pro fights to date and will fight in his hometown for the first time as a professional this Friday night at The King's Hall on the Yanjing Beer Fight Night 25 years to the week of McGuigan's famous World Featherweight title win over Eusebio Pedroza.
Paul McCloskey's first defence of his European Light Welterweight title against mandatory challenger Giuseppe Lauri tops the bill at The King's Hall and McGuigan believes it won't be too long more before Frampton is headlining at the famous old venue himself.
McGuigan manages the 23-year-old and he believes he can follow in his footsteps by enjoying some big nights at The King's Hall starting with this Friday night when he takes on Londoner Ian Bailey.
“Walking into The King's Hall will bring back an awful lot of happy memories for me and it will fill me with excitement for the future too and the possibilities for Carl,” said McGuigan. “This is a great opportunity for Carl to fight in front of his own fans and show the Belfast people what he's capable of on his King's Hall debut,” said McGuigan.
“Bailey is a tough guy, he's aggressive and comes to fight. He handed the Ingle's prospect Steve Barnes his first defeat recently so Carl's won't be taking anything for granted. Bailey likes to stand in front of a guy and trade so I think the two styles are really going to gel and it could be a very exciting fight for as long as it lasts.”
McGuigan believes that Friday could be the first of a series of exciting nights for Belfast fight fans as Frampton looks to replicate the “Clones Cyclone's” meteoric rise through the boxing world in the mid 80's.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Carl can go the whole way,” asserted McGuigan. “He has all the potential in the world and when I compare him to where I was at the same stage of my pro career it frightens me just how good he is.
"Irish boxing is blessed at the moment to have some very good fighters but I believe that Carl will prove to be the pick of the bunch. He has the X-factor that you need to succeed at the highest level.
He's just spent 10 days over with me in England sparring with the likes of Ian Napa, Choi Tseveenpurev and Bradley Evans and it was excellent work for him and that kind of sparring is vital to any young professionals progression.
“He's an old head on young shoulders, he's very cool and composed in the ring and he's confident and assured without being arrogant. He can hit with either hand and although he's very aggressive he can box off the back foot as well if needs be.”
The main event at the King's Hall sees Paul McCloskey making the first defence of his European Light Welterweight title against Giuseppe Lauri while Stephen Haughian clashes with Kevin McIntyre for the Celtic Welterweight title in a second title fight on the bill. Cavan's Andy Murray also features as the undefeated European number 3 looks to take another step close to a European title fight with namesake, John Murray.
Another exciting new talent out to extend his unbeaten record at the King's Hall will be flyweight Jamie Conlan while Cuban sensation Alexei Acosta will also feature as he looks to continue a incredible knockout streak that has seen him stop all 10 of his professional opponents to date.
Acosta, a World Junior Champion in the amateur ranks is now based in Cork having turned professional in 2008. Local middleweight duo Joe Rea and Ciaran Healy have also been added to the card with the pair looking to end the unbeaten records of Kris Carslaw and Harry Matthews respectively.
The Yanjing Beer Fight Night will be live on Sky Sports and tickets priced ￡30, ￡60 and ￡90 are available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets. Contact Ticketmaster 0844 8472455 (0818 719300 from ROI), Box Office 01277 359900, Julie 07745698372, Francie 07803282224.