On Saturday night at the Nottingham Arena, Carl Froch produced the best performance on home soil by a British boxer since Ricky Hatton took down Kostya Tszyu in 2005. Unflinchingly focused, Froch threw devastating combinations so utterly clinical in their accuracy that his opponent’s corner had no option but to throw in the towel during a brutal and dominant fifth round. It made a mockery of pre-fight predictions which foresaw his Canadian opponent Lucien Bute swinging a trademark left hook and making snakeskin loafers out of ‘The Cobra’.
In beating Bute, Carl Froch impressively won a World belt for the third time in his remarkable career. Just reward for a fighter who has never taken an easy route or a simple fight. Making his unspectacular debut in 2002 he was just another boxer from the North called Carl, complete with a gimmicky name, ‘The Cobra’, and a left hand guard that was closer to his thigh than the sanctity of his chin. Many understandably felt his defensive style to be untenable but his uncanny ability to pick the right angle and then work an opening carried him through 23 unbeaten fights in 5 years, showing an increasing hand speed, a teak chin and developing a world class punchers instincts and power.
Proving his worth against strong, successful boxers, against World Champions, Olympic Gold medallists and genuine contenders, Froch has often done it on the road. Out with the coverage given to lesser boxers and stilted by a lack of promotion and TV coverage Froch cut a talented but frustrated figure. However, mixing it in the last few years with the likes of Jermaine Taylor, Jean Pascal, Andre Dirrell, Glen Johnson and Mikkel Kessler he more than proved his worth. A disappointing loss to the deadly Andre Ward in the final of the Super Six World Boxing Tournament in December had many questioning whether 34 year old was finished as a top class boxer. Now, instead of facing questions about retirement, his impressive win on Saturday leaves Carl Froch with a number of options for the future. Here are five fights he should take:
Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler
This is so obvious that Eddie Hearn has probably already booked the Nottingham Arena for some time in the autumn. It makes sense though. Froch got a rough deal from the judges in Denmark during his loss in the Super Six fight and has unfinished business. The two are good friends and Kessler was ringside on Saturday night but having the chance to right a career wrong will be very attractive for ‘The Cobra’. Consider it a done deal.
Carl Froch v Andre Ward
Likewise, Froch would also relish the opportunity to take on the only other fighter to have beaten him. However, common consensus dictates that Andre Ward falls into the bracket of ‘something special’ amongst modern boxers. A re-match against Ward, even in Nottingham, would still present a huge gamble for Froch. Win and he would be a true great. Lose and he is back at square one with the retirement question hanging over him again. Unlikely but that said Froch has never been one to shirk a challenge.
Carl Froch v Chad Dawson
‘Bad Chad’ has a match up with Andre Ward scheduled for June 2012. Should he upset the odds, and it would be a massive, massive upset, then Froch could find his path to Ward blocked by Dawson. Dawson recently had a disqualification overturned from ridiculous bout against Hopkins in which he lifted B-Hop up off the ground and dropped him on the mat. When not body slamming pensioners he is a moderately decent counter-puncher but should prove easy pickings for Froch if put in front of him.
Carl Froch v Nathan Cleverly
To be fair, had Froch lost to Bute then this fight would have been a certainty. Now though, it seems Froch will have bigger fish to fry than the rising Welshman. What now seems more likely is that Nottingham’s finest will face-off against Kessler and possibly Ward whilst Cleverly tries his hands against B-Hop. Dependent on results of these bouts we may well see a fight between these two at light-heavyweight in the coming 18 months but for now their paths seems to going in separate directions. .
Carl Froch v Joe Calzaghe
Okay we’re in fantasy land now but it is fight ‘The Cobra’ would have taken in a heartbeat at any point of his career to date. Spending, as Froch did the first six or seven years of his career in the Welshman’s shadow he took any and every opportunity to goad Calzaghe into a scrap. However, no amount of chiding would bring Calzaghe into the ring with Froch, who felt him overrated and an ineffectual puncher. Calzaghe of course retired in 2009 and after Froch lost to Kessler last year (who Calzaghe beat on points in 2007) many felt the debate was concluded. In Froch’s mind however, Calzaghe is still very much a nemesis and he would surely drop everything for a pop at the former World Champion. Very unlikely but as we know much stranger things have happened in boxing.
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