In late 1959, legendary country musician Marty Robbins released his most popular record. Titled El Paso, the country and western ballad tragically told the tale of a man fighting for love and honour in the historic Texan city.
56 years later on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon, Northern Irish boxer Carl Frampton battled for his own glory in the same location when he defended his IBF super bantamweight title against Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.
Frampton’s rise to world title glory was expertly planned to the most stringent of detail by manager Barry McGuigan, and in his previous 20 fights as a professional he had barely lost a round, let alone been in serious danger of losing a bout.
Less than a minute had passed in his match with Gonzalez however when everything seemed to be on the verge of collapse.
The attacking Mexican was a 12/1 underdog, but confounded the bookmakers and the boxing world by dropping Frampton to the canvas with a stiff left hand within the first 35 seconds.
It was a flash knockdown and Frampton returned to his feet immediately, but he returned to the floor once again at the end of the round after another big shot from his confident rival.
A crowd which had barely seemed interested before the opening bell suddenly came alive, as they came to realise that a genuine fight was taking place in front of them rather than the blowout many expected to happen.
As the decibels rose in the venue, the intensity in the ring grew even more so, with both boxers beginning the second round firing off savage power shots with pure destruction on their mind.
Frampton was stung, but not swelling as he gained control of the squared circle despite the onslaught he was facing.
The tide began to turn in the third round when Gonzalez was given a point deduction after repeated low blows, and a striking change of tactics from Frampton began to pay dividends.
Gone was the gung-ho approach of the early stages, instead replaced with a thoughtful counter-attacking style which tested the patience and reflexes of the Mexican.
Five-figure attendances in Northern Ireland have regularly screamed Frampton to victory over the past few years, and the hundreds who had travelled to Texas tried their best to make it seem like a home fight for the defending champion who soaked up the adulation to sweat out his earlier frustration from the brace of knockdowns.
Intelligent pressure from Frampton reaped its rewards in the closing rounds as he raced ahead on the scorecards, and a second points deduction for Gonzalez widened his lead even further.
A blistering twelfth round produced a virtual Greatest Hits montage from the earlier 11 frames, and it was Frampton’s hand that was raised after the final bell, as all three of the scoring judges awarded him the victory to the delight of his fans and team.
Frampton’s rivalry with Britain’s Scott Quigg is one of the most documented in boxing, and the clamour for a unification match between the two champions has become even more intense after both won yesterday.
At around the same time Frampton was fighting in El Paso, Quigg was making quick work of his title defence against Kiko Martinez in Manchester.
The British WBA World super bantamweight champion needed just two rounds to knockout the former titleholder, who had previously lost twice to Frampton.Reuse content