Carl Frampton going the extra mile as he prepares for title clash with fellow Brit Scott Quigg

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Like most of us, Carl Frampton enjoyed some much-deserved time off during the recently passed holiday season. Unlike most of us, the unbeaten 122-pound world champ didn’t celebrate so much that he’s spent the last month avoiding a scale as though it were radioactive.

Carl Frampton and Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.

Carl Frampton tags Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. with a jab during their 122-pound title bout July 18 in El Paso, Texas. Frampton won an easy decision. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

That’s because long before the holidays hit, Carl Frampton (21-0, 14 KOs) launched a 17-week training program in advance of his February 27 title unification clash with Scott Quigg (31-0-2, 23 KOs) in Manchester, U.K.—meaning his festive season wasn’t nearly as festive as yours.

“I’ll have had one week off [from] training in 17 weeks when I glove up against Quigg, and that was over Christmas, but it’s fair to say I didn’t exactly overindulge,” says Frampton, a lifelong resident of Belfast, Northern Ireland. “I don’t really drink much anyway, so that was no great loss. But just being with my family and friends over the Christmas period made it very special, although it was early to bed every night, and I kept an eye on what I was eating.

“I think boxing does that to you. It is with you 24-7. You can never get away from it.”

For some fighters, the reality that a career in the sweet science is all-consuming can be difficult to embrace. But Frampton wouldn’t have it any other way.

“In a sense, it is all I know, as I had my first fight when I was 7—[nearly] 22 years ago! I don’t know any different,” he says. “What I do know is, it is a tough, hard sport. You have to really put the [work] in. That’s one of the reasons why my training team and I decided on a 17-week camp. To start nice and slowly and build up and up, so I’ve left no stone unturned and no corner has been cut.

“I’ll be in the best shape of my career, and I am convinced—absolutely 100 percent convinced—that at my best I beat Quigg every time. He will think otherwise, of course.”

Against Quigg, Frampton will be making the fourth defense of the title he won in September 2014, when he widely outpointed Kiko Martinez in front of 16,000 fans at a specially constructed outdoor ring in a Belfast dockyard, where the Titanic was built.

His first defense was a straightforward fifth-round stoppage victory over Chris Avalos, but in his most recent bout against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. in July in El Paso, Texas, “The Jackal” came perilously close to getting bitten.

Dumped onto his trunks twice in the first round by Gonzalez, Frampton regrouped, displayed all the mental fortitude required of a true champion and dominated the rest of the way, again winning a wide 12-round unanimous decision.

“It was probably the best thing that happened to me,” Frampton says of getting knocked down, “because it brought Quigg to the negotiating table. Now we have the biggest fight in Britain in many years looming.”

Ticket sales would certainly indicate as much, as all 20,000 seats for the all-British showdown at Manchester Arena were snapped up within minutes. Opinion is sharply divided over who will win, something that’s always been a proven ticket seller.

I’ll be in the best shape of my career, and I am convinced—absolutely 100 percent convinced—that at my best I beat Quigg every time. Carl Frampton

Like Frampton, Quigg has been out of the ring since July 18, when he scored a second-round TKO victory over Martinez. The 27-year-old native of Bury, Lancashire, in the U.K., has made five successful defenses of his 122-pound title, with four of those being second- or third-round stoppage victories.

“I respect Quigg, I really do, and although we are never going to be the best of pals, I accept the fact that he is a high-class fighter and a world champion,” says Frampton, who will turn 28 six days before the fight, which will air live on Showtime. “All my training regime has been geared toward how he fights. He is a good body puncher, uses his feet well and he is very fluid. All these things I have trained to deal with.”

The mutual respect between Frampton and Quigg is in marked contrast to fellow Brit Tyson Fury, the lineal heavyweight titleholder who recently stormed the ring and squared up to fellow heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder following the latter’s ninth-round knockout of Artur Szpilka on January 16. On the same night, Fury had to be pulled apart from former 168-pound champ Carl Froch.

Frampton can see the purpose behind Fury’s antics, just don’t expect him to partake in similar showmanship in the build up to his clash with Quigg.

“Tyson Fury is a character, and people either love him or hate him,” Frampton says. “I don’t mind at all what he does, as it brings a bit of color to the fight game. But the sort of things he does is just not me. … There is nothing false about me. I am what I am, and I believe I’m the best [122-pound fighter] in the world.”

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