MAKE no mistake about it, Carl Frampton’s career took a backward step in his victory over Alejandro Gonzalez Jnr. If you need any evidence of this it came in the excuses galore from the Frampton camp following the fight. Later that day Frampton’s rival Scott Quigg looked sensational blasting out Kiko Martinez. In their unofficial competition for supremacy in the court of public opinion, Quigg may now have passed Frampton. One fight alone should not determine that, but the public as knowledgeable as they can be at times, can be equally as fickle.

Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan had a marvelous career that resulted in him being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. McGuigan certainly has the expertise to move Frampton well and has done exactly that to this point. However, now that he has gotten Frampton to a higher level the question arises will McGuigan be a little less overprotective going forward?

McGuigan was a terrific fighter. His impact inside and outside the ring is undeniable. However, it’s a shame a fight with the great African Azumah Nelson when both were in their primes never took place. For whatever reason the bout never took place and is a miss for both. We can only speculate what would have occurred as we do now when evaluating Frampton against prospective opponents. I don’t know whether Barry has any regrets about his career, but if he does not facing Nelson might be one of them.

Guillermo Rigondeaux has been calling Frampton out for some time now, but McGuigan has not taken the bait. If Frampton is as McGuigan fancies the best man in his weight class then the match should be made. If McGuigan merely said that Frampton needed more experience then no one would complain. However, McGuigan tries to justify his position by saying that the Cuban can’t draw flies.

The ironic part about all of this is that Frampton would be in with a legitimate chance to defeat Rigondeaux who has not been too active or matched tough for a while. Rigondeaux is not a declining force, but at 34 his better days might be behind him. Give Frampton home advantage and it is quite possible that he can outhustle Rigondeaux. Of course if Rigondeaux showed up in top form he would be favoured, but the disparity between he and Frampton is not as wide as many believe.

After the Gonzalez fight, McGuigan asked us to give Frampton a break and not be critical of his performance. Easier said than done. McGuigan has put Carl on such a pedestal by telling us how good he is that we have every right to expect his performances to mirror that. It all goes with the territory. Frampton might not be as good as he’ll eventually become, but he is past the developmental stage.

We shouldn’t forget that Frampton did beat Gonzalez and that all great fighters have that occasional subpar performance, but this was supposed to be Frampton’s coming out party in America. It did solid TV ratings, but the desired buzz from Frampton never occurred. That does not mean it won’t in his next fight.

Carl is lucky to have the support system he does in the McGuigans. Shane McGuigan is a brilliant young trainer who is only going to get better with time. Frampton is the first big name fighter he has trained and certainly won’t be the last. The thing that makes Shane such a good trainer is his attitude. He does not pretend to know it all and is willing to experiment in the pursuit of excellence. The younger McGuigan is the right man to bring out Frampton’s full potential. The few whispers criticising him following the Gonzalez fight are unfair. It is refreshing to see that he has Frampton’s full backing as does the elder McGuigan who deserves a lot of credit for making Carl a champion.

Which brings us back to Quigg. The big question at this point might not be who would win, but will they ever fight? On the surface it seems that Frampton’s camp has wanted the fight more, but both have been guilty of it not happening. Quigg’s promoter Eddie Hearn basically grandstanded by making Frampton an offer that he had to know would probably be turned down. McGuigan’s attitude was not any better. He insisted Frampton was the A side of the promotion and should be treated as such, rather than acknowledge that both fighters were equally important to its success.

In and around Frampton’s weight class are Rigondeaux, Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jnr and Vasyl Lomachenko. Surely a fight against one of them can be made before the year is out. The ball is in team McGuigan’s court.

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ: It was not a shock to knock down Frampton