Tommy McCarthy believes the Frampton factor has played a big role in making him believe he could win a world title.
McCarthy, from Belfast, who is ranked in the top ten by WBC, WBA and IBF, defends his European cruiserweight title against Alexandru Jur, of Romania, in Manchester on Saturday and a win could see him boxing for a world title this year.
The 30-year-old was once on the Ireland amateur squad alongside Carl Frampton and he says the double world champion has inspired a generation of boxers from Belfast to reach the top.
“As a kid, aspiring to be a world champion was almost unattainable, but then you see Frampton doing it,” McCarthy said. “That is why Belfast boxing is buzzing, because someone “from the road” is doing it. If he can do it, I can do it, so it is not out of reach.
“A world title is what I want in an ideal world, but I don’t want to just fight for a world title, I want to win it and I really believe I can beat any of the four world champions.
“I watched Frank Bruno’s documentary on Sky and he didn’t win it until he was 34. I want to win it now and maybe I will be retired when I am 34.”
McCarthy has won four fights since he was stopped by Richard Riakporhe, a defeat that he believes was a turning point in his career.
“I got the offer two weeks out and I thought ‘I can beat him’, but my camp wasn’t solid enough,” he said. “You can’t cut corners. He came in and was in great shape. I knew I wasn’t ready, but I am a dice roller, I will take my chances. If I had said no, I could have been waiting another year for another opportunity.
“I still believe I am a better boxer then him and that I can beat him, I was relying on talent to get me through. I don’t have regrets.
“He had just had a hard fight with Sam Hyde, who is a friend of mine. Sam had won every round then got an eye injury. He said you will beat him, definitely, but that fight with Sam, that experience helped him and he had improved massively. He had a full team and Dillian Whyte was his manager and I was almost winging in it.
“In the fourth round, I felt he was blowing, so I thought I would let him throw a few more punches and I will get him on the next round.
“But that was a crazy plan. He went bang, landed a shot on the top of my head and my legs went. I was raging when the ref jumped in because my mind was clear, but he was right, because if I had got caught, I could have been seriously hurt.”
Later that year, McCarthy switched trainers to Pete Taylor, originally making the 90-minute commute daily across the border and employed a nutritionist and a conditioner. The difference was quickly shown as he went to Italy to beat the unbeaten Fabio Turchi and then claimed the European title with a decision over Bilal Laggoune.
“Pete is a brilliant boxing coach,” he said. “Every day in the gym, we are doing drills, drills, drills and that stuff doesn’t go into your muscle memory in six weeks, but it has been 18 months and now it is sinking in, I’m doing things without even thinking it.
“He is great at man management too. He makes you feel like you are the greatest, he brings your confidence through the roof. You have to trust your coach and I trust him so much.”
Despite the talk of a world title shot, McCarthy is not overlooking Jur.
“It will be a tough test, he has had a good camp by the looks of him,” McCarthy said. “I saw he said he didn’t see anything special in me, so he is here to win. He is up for it.”
The chance of a world title fight in Belfast would be special, but he is not opposed to the idea of travelling.
“I would love Belfast at the Odyssey Arena, but I would love to fight in America, in Madison Square Garden,” he said.
“But if it is in New York, Belfast will travel. I was there when Mick Conlan made his debut. Walking around Times Square was like walking down the Falls Road, there were so many people I recognized. If they travel for Mick, they would travel for me.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.