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Rivalry just as fierce in the corners ahead of Frampton v Quigg

There’s no love lost between Joe Gallagher and the McGuigans.

Shane McGuigan has thrown almost as many barbs as his boxer Frampton.
Shane McGuigan has thrown almost as many barbs as his boxer Frampton.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ciarán Gallagher reports from Manchester.

EVER SINCE CARL Frampton called out Scott Quigg some five-and-a-half years ago, their rivalry has simmered as a fight between the pair was left to marinate.

But while they will trade the punches once the opening bell rings at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night for their world super-bantamweight unification fight live on Sky Box Office, the men in their corners and at ringside have nearly as much invested in the bout as the fighters themselves.

Throughout the three-date UK and Ireland press tour to launch the fight last November and ever since, Quigg’s promoter Eddie Hearn, who previously promoted Frampton, and his trainer Joe Gallagher regularly traded barbs with their counterparts, Barry and Shane McGuigan.

Gallagher attempted to rile the elder McGuigan when referencing the Irish boxing legend’s last fight, a 1989 defeat to Jim McDonnell in Manchester, while Hearn continually referenced his own influential role in the financial breakdown of the fight in an effort to demean the opposition.

Meanwhile, McGuigan Senior more succinctly labelled Gallagher “a lizard” and Hearn “an arsehole”.

The promotional quibbles of Barry McGuigan and Hearn are intriguing for a number of reasons (not least the fact that, during his own fighting days, McGuigan enjoyed a healthy working relationship with Barry Hearn, Eddie’s father), but from a sporting perspective it is the rivalry of the cornermen and who comes out on top of a tactical battle which will be most interesting outside of the ring.

There has a palpable sense of competition between the trainers for the past few years with the Shane McGuigan and Gallagher regularly questioning each other’s methods and credentials in between brief periods of peace when they somewhat reluctantly pay each other the odd compliment.

“When it comes down to it, it’s just the fighters and trainers there. Carl is very much in sync with what Shane says and that’s the only voice he will hear on the night. Scott will be the very same,” said Gallagher, speaking to Irish media on how the central characters will cope in front of an anticipated 20,000-capacity crowd.

“If you speak to Shane, he will say there are vulnerabilities in Scott and I will say the same in Carl,” added Gallagher, who has certainly appeared to rub Frampton and the McGuigans up the wrong way.

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“You just have to get on with it. I’m paid by my fighters to do a job, not be sports personality of the year or any of that,” continued Gallagher on his pantomime villain reputation during media obligations. “I’m paid to help them win fights and that’s what we are doing at the minute,” he added.

The Manchester trainer is of Sligo stock and has built a stable of fighters who pride themselves on tremendous work-rate and fitness, although Gallagher has often faced criticism that his pupils can be one-dimensional in their aggressive approach when fighting in straight lines.

His 2015 success silenced many, however, as he was named Trainer of the Year in Britain after guiding three of his fighters world titles, including Quigg who was somewhat fortuitous to be upgraded to the status of a “full” champion by the WBA.

Meanwhile, Shane McGuigan has gradually attracted an impressive roster of talent to his own Battersea gym, working with Frampton as well as former world champion David Haye, title challenger George Groves and a number of prospects such as undefeated Tyrone middleweight Conrad Cummings.

The young trainer – aged just 27, and recently labelled as the ‘One Direction’ of boxing by Gallagher – has inevitably been dismissed by some naysayers as benefitting off the back of his family name but he has also proven himself to be a modern trainer who has successfully combined a scientific approach with a ring education he has progressively advanced since picking up as an Ulster senior-title-winning amateur.

“He can look at a guy and instantly work out how he can improve and what mistakes he’s making and what he needs to do,” says Barry McGuigan of his offspring. “He’s got the strength and conditioning side of things and his nutritional knowledge is fantastic too. Most of all, the boxing and tactical approach to fights and how you beat opposing styles is what he’s very good at.”

In a recent light-hearted Mr and Mr quiz for Sky Sports when Gallagher was quizzed about his knowledge of Quigg’s personality, the bond between fighter and trainer was obvious. Meanwhile, Frampton and McGuigan’s friendship has developed to such an extent that the pair have went from novice professionals to world title success together and the Belfast fighter regularly praises his coach as one of the world’s best.

Defeat will be agonising for whichever fighter comes out the wrong side of Saturday’s grudge bout, but a loss is sure to be just as bitter for that man’s main confidante.

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About the author:

Ciarán Gallagher

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