The crowd was electric. Absolutely, positively electric. Here was the excitement so badly missing from fights in Las Vegas. For thousands upon thousands of people were packed into a single arena in Manchester, England to see – wait for it – a boxing match, Frampton vs Quigg. Clearly, something big was happening here. At least that was the impression people both in England and abroad were under, which is understandable as it’s not everyday that two undefeated champions square off. Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg were set to finally clash and unify their slices of the super bantamweight title pie.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case in boxing, the fight didn’t live up to the hype. No, this wasn’t Mayweather vs Pacquiao disappointing (at least partially because it wasn’t as big a deal outside of boxing’s rather insular circle of hardcore fans), but it clearly isn’t going to go down in history as a beloved classic, either.
Indeed, Frampton vs Quigg was never a battle to see who the best super bantamweight fighter was. Everyone knows it’s Rigondeaux until proven otherwise. No, this was a fight to find out who was the best besides Rigo, and perhaps even one or two others. Still, the hype was huge, there was genuine animosity between the two camps and both fighters were known to excite.
Alas, excitement was the last thing fans got, at least for the first few rounds. For nothing happened. That’s not hyperbole, either. It’s almost literal truth. Each man tried to out-skill the other by being so supremely cautious that there was simply no way a mistake could be made. Of course it’s worth noting that the combatants were under tremendous pressure; the crowd was so big, so overwhelming, it’s easy to understand why they might be tight and tentative.
Believe it or not, the first half dozen or so rounds could only be judged by who did less. And it was Quigg who somehow managed to do so in the first 18 minutes of the fight. For while Frampton at least tried to jab his way past Quigg’s defenses, Quigg stood by moving, but throwing no shots. Caution had essentially morphed into inertia and so the first half of the bout arguably had to go to Frampton by most people’s standards. Needless to say, this did not make for scintillating entertainment and one phrase neatly summed up the long-awaited match: not as advertised.
By the second half of the fight, however, Quigg finally, belatedly, started to come on. And guess what? He did well. Very well. Thumping away at Frampton’s body, the taller Quigg landed hard and frequently. Frampton may have still landed more often, but it was Quigg’s shots that were taking their toll. The fight was starting to even out. In fact, it was starting to look like Quigg might possibly run away with it.
By the eleventh round, a battered Frampton was struck by Quigg hard and it looked like the man might actually collapse onto the canvas. What’s more, Frampton had stared directly at his corner at one point, making it clear that even he knew he was in serious trouble.
In the end, though, Frampton prevailed. He took control of the final round and assured himself a split decision victory. Why a split decision? Probably because those first rounds were so hard to call that they really could arguably have gone either way and one of the judges thought at least a few of them went to Quigg.
Ultimately this fight showed that neither Quigg nor Frampton might be the fighter he was cracked up to be. Neither looked great and it’s hard to imagine either man would look good against the likes of Rigondeaux. Indeed, it’s hard to say at this point if either man might look good against the likes of Leo Santa Cruz. The bottom line is this eagerly anticipated fight was, to say the least, underwhelming and did nothing to enhance either man’s stature. — Sean Crose