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Frampton vs. Quigg: Belfast's 'average Joe' out to silence Manchester

Carl Frampton enjoys levels of support seldom seen since the days of fans' favourite Ricky Hatton, but the Northern Irishman will be fighting to silence the hometown of the 'hitman' when he meets Manchester local Scott Quigg in February.

The super bantamweight title holders are finally set to face off in a unification bout that has been years in the making. While Frampton (21-0-0, 14KOs) will be making the short trip across the Irish Sea as the 'away' fighter, the Belfast native is convinced he will be bringing a slice of Northern Ireland to the Manchester Arena.

The adoration Frampton's fans have for him was clear to see at the Belfast leg of the pre-fight media duties, when around 1,000 supporters turned up to boo Quigg (31-0-2, 23 KOs) and his promoter Eddie Hearn. And Frampton admitted there is something special in his connection with the boxing public.

"I'm just an average Joe doing well," the IBF super bantamweight champion told ESPN. "I'm not going to put myself in the bracket of Hatton, because there was only one Hatton. No one will get to that level again, taking thousands of people to Vegas with them.

"Ricky's a working class boy, he likes a pint and he's pretty funny as well. I don't want to compare myself to Ricky but a smaller Irish version of him, maybe. A man of the people."

Tickets for Frampton's showdown with WBA champion Quigg have been sold with a 50-50 split, but Frampton is convinced Irish fans will take over the 20,000 seat arena and heap pressure on his English opponent.

"Yes I'm out of Belfast and I'll be staying in a town that I'm not used to, but when I step out onto the ramp, I think I'll have most of the support," Frampton said.

"You're going to expect boos because Quigg's fans are going to get behind their man, but I believe I'm going to have three-quarters of the support in the arena that night.

"That's something Scott will have to deal with. When he comes out onto the ramp in front of the home fans, and he's getting a worse reception [than] the so-called away fighter, how's he going to deal with that?"

While Hearn was the target of much of the Belfast crowd's ire at the November press conference, Frampton's team could hardly be more popular in boxing circles.

His promoter and former featherweight titlist Barry McGuigan hardly needs an introduction, and Frampton revealed he relishes the pressure of their connection.

"Obviously Barry was a massively popular figure when he was fighting in the '80s," Frampton said. "People see some similarities between us and there are people coming to see my fights who haven't been to see boxing since a McGuigan fight.

"There's been pressure on me my whole career, but I honestly believe I perform best under pressure.

"I would love to win more titles, unify the super bantamweight division, then win a world title at a weight division above. When you do all that, you'll go down in history like McGuigan."

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