Carl Froch beats Jean Pascal

Carl Froch07.12.08 - By John Wight: It doesn’t get much better than Carl Froch’s epic victory over Quebec’s Jean Pascal at Nottingham’s Trent Arena last night. Both men came with impressive unbeaten records determined to win. Both were in the shape of their lives. Both climbed into the ring with the unshakeable belief they would be climbing back out again the WBC Super Middleweight World Champion. Both restored pride and dignity to the sport on the same night that on another bill at London’s Excel Arena boxing fans were expected to pay for the privilege of watching a card of mismatched, over-hyped fighters doing the opposite.

What drama, what excitement, what courage – and what a fighter Britain has in Carl Froch, who last night announced in devastating fashion his arrival as the genuine article with a performance that ranks as good and explosive as any we’ve seen over the years at super middleweight.

I have to admit, I’d never seen Froch fight before last night, but watching clips of him training in Ireland, listening to his interviews, I was impressed with how pre-possessed, confident, and articulate he came across. He was focused and appeared very much in control of every aspect of his preparation, very much like David Haye, it occurred to me. And watching clips of him in training served to whet my appetite for the fight.

With regard to his style, it’s easy to see why he’s nicknamed The Cobra. He’s one of those long armed, gangling fighters that likes to keep his hands nice and loose. But his preference for keeping his left hand low and out, designed to lure his opponent onto a quick left hook, leaves him open and susceptible to a right hand over the top, which Pascal exploited more than a few times. To be frank, I’m just not sure that Froch has the hand speed to make this hands-low style work to his advantage, especially when up against the likes of Jermain Taylor and Kessler, and if I were his trainer, Rob McCracken, I’d be advising him to lose it and adopt a more orthodox style with both hands close to the chin. In the middle rounds there were a couple of occasions when he got caught and was dangerously exposed, but he not only proved that he could take a good shot, he also showed remarkable ability to keep thinking even when under pressure and in trouble, an attribute which separates world champions from contenders.

He does possess a spear of a right hand, but Pascal weathered everything that Froch threw at him and showed remarkable powers of recovery himself. However, this was more a testament to Pascal’s determination to win the fight, I feel, than due to a lack of power in Froch’s punches.

I also felt that Froch’s chin was way too high and his head movement almost non-existent, instead relying far too much on footwork and his height advantage to lean back and evade Pascal’s punches. A fighter of roughly equal height and reach would pick him off, even though he has a good chin. In addition, he got drawn into a brawl on the inside with Pascal at times, which suited the shorter, more compact fighter better, who found the target with too many short hooks and overhand rights for Froch and his camp to be happy with.

In future I’d like to see him fight with more discipline, boxing behind his excellent jab to set up long right hands and hooks.

But in the context of the entire fight, these are small criticisms. Froch’s heart, courage and skill combine to make him an outstanding talent

In this country, over the past 15-20 years we’ve enjoyed something of an embarrassment of riches in the middleweight and super middleweight division. The likes of Benn, Watson, Eubank, Calzaghe, Woodhall, and Reid have made the super middleweight division Britain’s own over the years, with Ireland’s Stevie Collins the only fighter of note to break this monopoly in that time.

The legacy continues now with Carl Froch, whose rise could not have been better timed with the career of Joe Calzaghe coming to an end. As to whom he fights next, ranked number two in the WBC rankings is one Jermain Taylor, and number one in the WBA is Mikkel Kessler. Either or would be a great match-up.

One thing’s for sure, on last night’s performance Britain has another world champion at super middleweight to be proud of.

Article posted on 07.12.2008

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