Heading into their highly anticipated “Battle of Britain,” 122-pound champions Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg each promised to knock the other out. Neither came close to fulfilling that promise Saturday, but Frampton was at least on-point with his prediction that he’d exit the ring the victor.
Although it took a while for the 12-round clash to build into the frenetic fury that was expected, Carl Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) did more than enough to earn a split decision before a spirited sellout crowd of 21,000 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, U.K. In so doing, Frampton remained undefeated, handed Scott Quigg (31-1-2, 23 KOs) his first loss and added his rival’s 122-pound title to the one he already owned.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have won. Over the moon,” said Frampton, who won 116-112 on two scorecards, while a third judge scored it 115-113 for Quigg. “It was a great victory, and I proved I am the best [122-pound fighter] out there.”
After a slow start in which both guys fought extremely cautiously, Frampton began putting his superior boxing skills to work and gained a real foothold while Quigg—the bigger puncher—simply refused to let his fists fly.
In the second, Frampton appeared to settle into his stride, doubling up with the jab before landing a clean right hook toward the end of the round. Frampton’s ramrod jab proved a potent force all night, including Round 4, when Quigg was caught on several occasions. On the rare occasions early on when Quigg did get off, the 27-year-old relied on whaling hooks, none of which found the target.
In the fifth, Frampton really looked to be enjoying himself as the 29-year-old Irishman’s superior technical skills kept Quigg seemingly paralyzed. Frampton backed up his jab with some decisive power punches, while his opponent continued to answer with inaccurate shots.
“I felt the first four or five rounds were very cagey and a bit of a chess match,” Quigg said. “It was at the end of the fourth round when he caught me with a peach of an uppercut [that hurt] my jaw. “I had to re-evaluate what I was doing, and had to be a bit more careful.”
That cautiousness continued into the seventh, when the crowd—which was surprisingly pro-Frampton despite the fact Quigg’s hometown of Bury, Lancashire, is just 15 miles from Manchester—began to voice its disapproval. That seemed to spur Quigg into action in the second half of the round, but Frampton got the better of a late exchange with a flurry of blows.
Quigg found his range at last in the eighth round as a stinging right hook clearly registered with Frampton, who acknowledged the shot. Quigg then enjoyed his best round in the ninth, when two bludgeoning right hands caught Frampton flush on the whiskers. Still, neither punch seemed to have any lasting effect.
The 10th round featured the kind of furious action many expected to see for the entire bout, a barnstorming three minutes in which both boxers pummeled away to the head and body. While Frampton scored with the cleaner punches—as he generally did throughout the contest—Quigg landed some telling shots of his own, underlining his outstanding conditioning.
“I could have done 20 rounds and will always have something left in the tank,” Quigg said. “Everything was going to plan, and I wasn’t getting caught.”
After the scintillating 10th round, the 11th also proved to be terrific theater, as science largely went out of the window. Both fighters sought the conclusive finish, and Quigg again connected with two big blows, but Frampton seemed to shake them off without much consequence.
“In the last five rounds, I really started going at him, and I hurt him,” Quigg said. “In the 11th round, I really pinged him, and thought I had him. But he is a class fighter and showed it.”
Indeed, with Quigg making a late run and narrowing the gap on the scorecards, Frampton regained his bounce in the 12th, determined to finish strong and leave no doubt. He danced on his toes and used his jab to keep Quigg at bay until the final bell.
When it was over, both fighters smiled and embraced, a scene in direct contrast to the frequent hostility that became a staple of the pre-fight hype.
“The fight went very much to plan, and I thought I had won it by quite a distance,” Frampton said. “I’m really surprised one judge gave it to him, but you would have to ask him about that. “I thought I won, hands down. I was the better man on the night.”
For complete coverage of Frampton vs Quigg, head over to our fight page.