I don’t have a lot of hair on my head these days.
A look at the history of the Brown family hairline shows any male in their late 20s starts seeing less and less of what was once a fluffy, luxurious mop. Can’t wait to tell my sons the good news. But apart from age and DNA and life’s worries, there’s something else I blame for the rapid retreat of my once thick hairline. I blame boxing.
You see, every time a judge turns in a mind-numbingly stupid scorecard, every time a referee stops a match too soon or too late, every time a governing body sanctions another meaningless “championship” title belt, a few more hairs disappear. And as you know, these things happen all too often.
And then there’s the big fights that don’t come to fruition, or take an eternity to put together. When I ruminate on those, then the fur up top sustains truly heavy losses. And I’m not referring to the long overdue superfight scheduled for May 2. No, I’m talking about the big fight yet to be made east of the Atlantic. I’m talking about Carl Frampton against Scott Quigg for all the marbles in the UK.
We’ve been waiting and waiting. And the hair has been falling and falling. The fact is, Britain’s two premier super-bantamweights have been talking about this match since 2011 when they were merely tips for the future.
December 2011, Scott Quigg: “We want to capture the public’s imagination like the George Groves and James DeGale fight did. There is no doubt that me and Carl are going to fight sooner or later. We could go on our own paths, but it is important to face each other because we both want to prove we are the best.”
January 2012, Carl Frampton: “If I ever fought him I know that I would beat him, doesn’t matter whether it would be in Belfast or Bury, or even on his own street. I do respect Scott a lot though, and it would be a great fight.”
March 2012, Quigg: “I want it, one hundred per cent.”
March 2012, Frampton: “I want it the next fight, whenever, any time.”
Each man has been unable to avoid being questioned about the other during interviews in the months and years since. But still, no fight.
After last Saturday’s riveting display by Frampton, successfully defending his IBF 122lb world title with a fifth round stoppage of Chris Avalos–an emphatic performance watched by some two million fans in the UK alone–there stood Frampton and Quigg side-by-side answering the usual questions from ITV’s Gabriel Clarke. Frampton’s promoter, Barry McGuigan, high on adrenaline, declared his protégé to be number one in the division.
That debate is for another day and, to be honest, no hair has been lost writing this so far. Instead, the truly vexing question remains: when will Frampton and Quigg finally square off? There is an undeniable sense that a showdown is now inevitable, but in fact other questions have since come into the spotlight and need to be addressed, such as:
If Quigg is on a fight-by-fight deal with Eddie Hearn, is he now free to negotiate a Frampton fight himself? Can Eddie Hearn and Barry McGuigan, whose history could prevent this from ever happening, actually sit down in the same room for as long as it takes to thrash out what may be the biggest fight in British boxing today? Would a neutral venue for this Northern Ireland vs England battle be best for all concerned? And if so, where would that be?
Make no mistake, Frampton vs Quigg is an A-list boxing attraction. Frampton improves with every fight, his technique getting stronger, and he possesses devastating punching power. Quigg, WBA ‘Regular’ title aside, is a sharp all-rounder who should rise to the occasion of facing the most dangerous opponent of his career thus far.
Where does each man go without the other? Frampton, who could probably sell out Belfast’s Odyssey Arena by himself and without an undercard, will continue to pack them in whenever he likes in Northern Ireland, earning reasonable money , until Guillermo Rigondeaux comes calling or Leo Santa Cruz decides to step up and actually have a meaningful fight.
Quigg, in all honesty, needs this more. Is he on Frampton’s level? How would he have fared against Kiko Martinez and Chris Avalos? Personally, I think he stops both men. But we need to know how well Quigg handles himself at the highest level, and a match with Frampton is the perfect way to find out.
The match-up’s relevancy is at an all-time high now and both sides continue to make the right noises. But that’s all it is, noise. And it’s been the same noise since 2011. It’s enough to drive a boxing fan batty. If ever a fight had to happen this year, it is Frampton vs Quigg, for U.K. bragging rights, not to mention big paydays down the line against Cruz, Rigondeaux, and maybe even Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters. This match has reached its boiling point, and only egos and numbers can prevent it from happening. But they should not.
But then someone asks me what the odds are that Frampton will move up to 126 sooner instead of later, and a Frampton-Quigg fight never happens? And damn it all, there goes more hair. — Shaun Brown