Taylor/Froch: How deadly is the Cobra?

22.04.09 - by Dan Eastman - On April 25th, in the Nutmeg State of Conneticut, newly crowned WBC Super Middleweight champion Carl 'The Cobra' Froch will face the toughest test of his career so far when he makes his first defence against former middleweight champ Jermain 'Bad Intentions' Taylor.

But for most fight fans, far more is known about Froch's upcoming opponent than the champion himself. The Pride of Little Rock, Arkansas has been a regular on the big stage for the last few years.. His close back to back victories over Bernard Hopkins, and his hard-fought draw with Winky Wright, led many to believe that Taylor could be the new long-reigning king at 160 lbs. But his lacklustre decisions over the undersized Ouma and Spinks, and his back to back losses against Kelly Pavlik, forced many fight fans to think again.

Once the initial disappointment of Taylor's first two defeats subsided, a clearer picture of who he really is as a fighter emerged. He's certainly flawed, but there's no question that he remains a naturally talented athlete with the class and the skills to compete at the highest level. Although it was hardly a spectacular achievement, in November he convincingly beat Jeff Lacy in his first outing at Super Middleweight. And it would be safe to say that he shares a few similarities with his last opponent. Both are no strangers to hype, both could be considered mentally vulnerable, and both now have two defeats on their records. But is Froch good enough to hand Taylor his third?

It would certainly appear so. The undefeated Nottingham native has beaten 19 of his 24 opponents inside the distance, displaying the same kind of lethal punching power that left Taylor slumped in the corner of a ring only a few fights ago. But the truth is Froch has yet to stop a world class fighter like Taylor. He's viciously felled plenty of British domestic talent, from Brian McGee to Tony Dodson, and dipped his toe in at European level by knocking out Sergey Tatevosyan inside two rounds, but it's yet to be decisively proven whether he can do the same to fighters of a much higher caliber.

He was given the chance to last December, when he fought the tough unbeaten Canadian Jean Pascal for the vacant WBC belt. Before the fight, many predicted another Froch knockout. But despite outworking him, Froch failed to make a serious dent in Pascal, who was on queer street in his previous bout against Omar Pittman. Which raises the question, if the very limited Pittman could have Pascal in serious trouble, why couldn't the power punching Cobra?

Many hard-hitters find that their power is no longer as devastating when they step up in class. If this turns out to be the case with Froch, he'll be in for a long night come April 25th, as his power is surely his ace card. His other strengths include his ability to throw his stinging shots from awkward angles and his granite chin. But as we saw recently in the Mosley-Margarito upset, if you constantly take big, accurate shots, it'll catch up with you sooner or later. Admittedly, pound for pound, Taylor isn't the puncher that Mosely is, but as the Ghost found out in round two of their first encounter, he has enough weight in his punches to do damage. And he shouldn't have too much trouble finding the target against Froch, who was nailed with right hands all night by Pascal. Froch may lack the quick reflexes to compensate for his low hands, but he often manages to turn his lack of defence into an advantage, by inviting his opponents in, then punishing them. Whether this will work against someone whose twice shared the ring with the smartest fighter in the game (no, not Pavlik) is uncertain.

What is certain is that Taylor will be a great measuring stick to determine how far the Cobra can go. This time out, he's not fighting a shot Robin Reid or an unknown quantity like Pascal, he's facing a proven world class operator who has gone the distance with the likes of Hopkins, Wright and Pavlik. If Froch can 'smoke his boots' in impressive fashion, he'll not only send out a loud message to his disbelievers, but also to the entire boxing world. Just listing some of the names on Taylor's resume reminds us of the gulf in class between their opposition. But the lack of big names on Froch's record is no fault of his own. For the last few years, he's been the President of the 'who-the-hell-needs-him' Club, with his fellow Super Middleweights hardly falling over themselves to face him. Hopefully, now he's finally stepped onto the world stage, that should all change.

The Pascal fight was supposed to be Froch's acid test, but for many fans, despite his triumphant victory, it ended up raising more questions than answers. Those questions are sure to answered on the 25th, in what promises to be an exciting, fascinating contest. One that will, once and for all, finally tell us just how deadly the Cobra is.

Article posted on 22.04.2009

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