WHEN YOU mention Carl Frampton’s name to Cathal McMonagle, one story springs to mind instantly.
Frampton defeated Leo Santa Cruz on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in New York to be crowned the WBA world featherweight champion.
Frampton became the first Northern Irishman to win a world title at two weight divisions.
He went to featherweight after unifying the IBF and WBA super-bantamweight titles when he overcame Scott Quigg in Manchester in February.[adrotate group=”57″]
During Frampton’s amateur days with the Midland White City BC in Belfast, he and McMonagle were team-mates at the Irish High Performance Unit.
McMonagle, a Letterkenny native who was a five time Irish senior super-heavyweight champion with Holy Trinity BC in Belfast, and Frampton were in Ukraine at a pre-World Championship training camp in 2007.
They had both won silver medals at the European Championships in Dublin and were in fine fettle.
“Carl always had guts about him,” says McMonagle.[adrotate group=”38″]
“I was in sparring with this Russian boy. We were in a training camp and this bloke just kicked me during the spar. I lost it and punched him. He jumped on me and, while most of the other boxers were standing about watching, Carl jumped straight in.
“Carl always trained very hard. I knew him well. We – myself, Carl, Paddy Barnes and Ryan Lindberg – traveled down from Belfast to the High Performance Unit in Belfast all the time.
“Our paths crossed a lot. I gave the boys a lift down and Carl was always working very hard at his game.”
Frampton was a late call-up in 2007 for the European Championships and he had to settle for a silver after losing to Khedafi Djelkhir from France, who won a silver medal at the Olympics in Beijing a year later.
McMonagle also left with silver. After a sensational win over Cristian Ciocan from Romania, he was beaten by Roberto Cammarelle of Italy in the final.
“Carl boxed superbly in those Championships,” says McMonagle.
“He was always a very solid boxer, all-action.”
Frampton had considered his future in the sport after losing semi-finals three years running to TJ Doheny, Lindberg and Kevin Fennessy and it was 2009 before he overcame David Oliver Joyce to collect his maiden Irish title.[adrotate group=”38″]
At the European Championships in ’07, Frampton was first spotted by Barry McGuigan, whose Cyclone Promotions look after ‘The Jackal’.
“He suits pro boxing,” McMonagle says. “He’s in with a good crew and I’m delighted to see him realising his dreams. He’s very down to earth, he works so hard and he’s just a really good guy.”