This Saturday from the Manchester Arena in England, WBA super bantamweight titleholder Scott Quigg will face IBF titleholder Carl Frampton in a fight that has been years in the making, since the two were top prospects. Quigg, now 27, feels that the timing is just right -- perfect, even.
"This is the perfect time now for this fight. We're both world champions, we're both undefeated, and I believe this is the perfect time for me to go out there and do a job on him," he said. "It's a fight I've wanted for a long time. It's a fight that's been brewing for a long time.
"Seeing Carl sign on the dotted line meant that I was one step closer to achieving everything I've worked towards; becoming the best."
Quigg (31-0-2, 23 KO) is the underdog going into Saturday's fight, but not by as much as he might have been had this fight taken place a year ago. Since then, Quigg has smashed Kiko Martinez in two rounds, while Frampton made his U.S. debut last July, getting dropped two times in the first round by Alejandro Gonzalez, who was seen as no threat going in.
"No one expected me to get Kiko out of there early. If I'd have stopped him late or won on points, then Carl had already done that, so the only way I could get credit or show people what I am capable of was KO him early," Quigg said of his own last performance, before discussing Frampton's.
"With Carl and his performance in the States, they handpicked Gonzalez from a list of opponents because they thought that he would be the easiest one. They wanted to go over there and look good in his U.S. debut so the Americans would rave about him - and he nearly came unstuck."
That Frampton (21-0, 14 KO) would recover and win that fight handily is, at least in the minds of many, sort of irrelevant. The fact that he struggled at all, that he got into real trouble early in that fight, is what stands out, and gives the two fighters something closer to equal momentum going into this bout. For Quigg, it's something to talk about.
"We respect each other as fighters. You don't become a world champion by chance, there's a lot of hard work and a lot of talent involved," he said. "But they are in for a shock because they think I can only fight one way. They don't think I can't adapt and I'll just come steaming forward. Maybe I will do that, but if I do come steaming forward, it's because I am going to KO him."
Of his power, he added, "If I land clean on any super bantamweight or featherweight in the world, I will knock them out. So, it’s about just making sure I pick the right time and I open the gaps. And when the gaps are there then I’ll take them."
Quigg also feels that fighting in Manchester -- where Frampton won't have quite as much support as he's had for fights in Belfast -- will affect his opponent.
"I don't take any notice of whether I've got the crowd behind me or whether it is behind my opponent, but I know for a fact that he takes comfort from having a lot of support. When he's taken away from that, he shows his vulnerabilities."
As big as Frampton-Quigg is, though, there remains the elephant in the room: Guillermo Rigondeaux, the true No. 1 fighter in the super bantamweight division, was stripped of two titles late last year, the WBO and WBA belts. Quigg was elevated into Rigondeaux's spot as the "super world champion" of the WBA after that, but Rigondeaux's name has been attached to this fight. "Yes," many of us are saying, "this is a big fight, and we're all looking forward to it. But what about the guy who really rules the division?"
And Quigg, for his part, understands the reasoning.
"I am not going to give the WBA belt up. I want to fight the best. Guillermo Rigondeaux is next because that's what the WBA have ordered," he said.
"My focus is on beating Carl. We'll look at fighting the best out there after that. I've always said, ‘I'm out to fight the best and beat the best.' So, I'm obviously going to fight Rigondeaux. I'm not scared of fighting him. I'm not shying away from the challenge. I thrive on that sort of task and fighting Rigondeaux - who's rightly so ranked No. 1 in the division because of what he's achieved - would be a huge challenge. I honestly believe that if the time comes and we fight, I can beat him."