Steve Bunce on Boxing: Belfast is an old-fashioned fight city and has found a hero from another age in Carl Frampton

He gives the purists and the converts a text-book version of a compact, busy little puncher, a fighter at ease dropping his opponents and never changing his expression

Carl Frampton faces Hugo Cazares on 4 April for a super-bantamweight world-title shot

The last time Carl Frampton fought in Belfast, there were people stood outside the doors at the Odyssey Arena waiting for the result and silently cursing their failure to be part of the 9,000 screaming fans inside.

The great fight city had waited decades for the arrival of a new local idol, a figure to replace the man who walked Frampton to the ring. "They really love him. It's quite incredible, it's all a bit crazy at the moment," said Barry McGuigan, whose nights in various Belfast rings will never be forgotten.

McGuigan has been in charge of Frampton's progress since 2009 and it has not been as smooth as the glorious success of last October's sold-out fight against Jeremy Parodi suggests. McGuigan has worked with various television companies and fight people during the journey so far and the boxing business can be – putting it politely – a troublesome environment.

"A few things failed to happen and a few other things didn't happen quite how we wanted," said McGuigan. "Carl beat a guy who is now the world champion and Carl has to fight a final eliminator. That... is the way it works."

In a classic bit of boxing fixing, Frampton became invisible last year after he had knocked out Kiko Martinez, yet the Spaniard somehow got the title fight, won and is now ignoring Frampton.

On 4 April, Frampton returns to the Odyssey for a fight against Mexican Hugo Cazares, a former double world champion and the leading contender for the super-bantamweight title. It is a final eliminator before McGuigan gets the chance to try to get the WBC's regal champion, Leo Santa Cruz, to fight in Belfast. It is, make no mistake, the hardest possible route to a world title, because Santa Cruz is the very best in the world at the weight.

The fight with Cazares was announced last week and half of the 9,000 tickets sold out straight away, and the remaining tickets would also probably be gone by now if McGuigan did not have the problem of providing the other Irish fighters on the bill with their own tickets to sell. It seems that every boxer in Ireland wants to be part of a Frampton bill. It is a nice problem to have and when McGuigan said recently that the 51,700 capacity Aviva Stadium in Dublin would be a perfect venue for a Frampton fight if it had a retractable roof to protect fans from the Irish weather, he was not joking.

Even though I have been ringside in Belfast for over 25 years for amateur and professional boxing, the Frampton experience last time out still came as a mild shock. The audience was truly mixed; there was a genuine split between traditional and new fans, men and women at their first show who left that night like starry-eyed converts, howling with delight.

It's back to what McGuigan said: "The fans love him." It is also that Frampton gives the purists and the converts a text-book version of a compact, busy little puncher, a fighter at ease dropping his opponents and never changing his expression.

I have watched people – in a similar way to Ricky Hatton fans – get close to Frampton, move to his shoulder and not ask for a picture or an autograph but just to shake his hand and make eye contact. "They just want to touch him and he's touchable," said Jake McGuigan, who works with his father on the promotion.

They will be back outside on 4 April listening to every punch as the crowd inside keeps up a relentless backdrop of oohs and arghs. It feels like a step back in time and Frampton looks and fights like a man from another era. He is just a proper fighter, in proper fights, and he is "touchable", which is the main thing in Belfast.

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress among those on 'master list' of massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Upper KS2 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Upper KS2 Primary Teacher...

KS1 Float Teacher

£90 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay : Randstad Education Southampton: ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Trainee Recruitmen...

KS1 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: KS1 Primary Teacher in Br...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor