Carl Froch - Was he all mouth and no trousers?

By Gary Hopkins - Few people in the UK of late, with the exception of perhaps David Haye and Tyson Fury, have been as openly vocal and "cocky" about their ability to fight as Carl Froch. For years, Froch was the "also ran" super-middle in the UK - always in Calzaghe's shadow where he spent his time shouting to the world that he was the better of the two. I don't believe anyone but Froch and his most ardent fans (and probably Calzaghe's most ardent haters) seriously believed Froch was good enough to be in the same ring as Calzaghe. But still, even after his retirement, Froch was calling him out at every opportunity seemingly fixated with his dream of getting it on with Calzaghe..

As Calzaghe wound up his career and it was abundantly clear that a fight between the two was never going to happen, Froch finally turned his sights to actually winning something to back up his claims. Stepping up in standard to fight a dangerous Canadian in Jean Pascal he went to war. It was certainly a thrilling fight and established Frochs chin as one of the strongest around. At this point though his performance raised alarm bells with many of the critics and the fans. Sure he could take a punch but he was seemingly ALWAYS there to take it with an abundant lack of defence. There had always been questions about his ability in defence from his previous fights and this fight finally showed us why - there was virtually none. Taking a deserved win and with it the WBC World SM title he proceeded to call out anyone he possible could. Calzaghe (again), Hopkins, Kessler, Bute, Pavlik and even Pacquiao were all called out but in the end it was Jermain Taylor who took him on. Before the fight Froch boasted ďI donít want to sound bigheaded, but I canít see Taylor going the distance with me". He was right, but perhaps not quite in the way he thought.

For eleven and three quarter rounds, Taylor schooled Froch in the art of boxing and often made him look like a slow lunging amateur. Coming into the twelfth round, even with Taylor fading badly everyone knew Taylor was about to win. The boxers knew it, the trainers knew it and the corners knew it and more importantly the judges' scorecards showed it. But for Taylor being exhausted and walking into a desperate final barrage from Froch there was nothing in Frochs performance to make you think he was anywhere near the best in the division. In the end, a win is a win and Froch, perhaps rightly, shouted about his win from the rooftops proclaiming he was by far the best in the division and willing to take on anyone anywhere. But from here on, the serious doubts about his ability to deal with the boxers as well as the brawlers was clear for all to see.
Then came the Super Six.

The super six is an outstanding tournament which I'm hoping (even praying!) is going to be replicated in other weight classes. The fans, seemingly, love it and it gave Froch his chance to truly shine. Few people these days are given the opportunity they crave to fight the best at their peak. With this tournament Froch was given the chance to show the world he really was worthy of his boasts. His first fight with Dirrell however, was a prime example of what you get when a boxer who won't hit goes up against a fighter who can't box. Dirrell ran rings around Froch all night and he didn't get anywhere near to hitting Dirrell with anything meaningful for the whole 12 rounds. Dirrell to his detriment ran all night and didn't stay in one place long enough to either hit Froch or to get hit by Froch. I think in retrospect Dirrell was 2 or 3 fights too young for that fight as while he clearly had the skills, he lacked the confidence to actually hit back. Had he done that, like he did with Abraham, I think Froch would have been 0-2 instead of the rather flattering 1-1 we find he has in the tournament. But again a win is a win and Froch, flattering judging aside, probably deserved the win on his workrate and aggression alone. Regardless of the win, this showed yet another chink in Froch's armour and further raised questions about his true world standard credentials.

Finally you look at his last fight which was against Kessler and the loss of his WBC belt. I think Kessler is a decent fighter who, much like Jeff Lacy, was severely affected by his loss to Calzaghe. Calzaghe, like many other truly great fighters, had a way of getting into their opponents heads and leaving them the shell of their former selves. Kessler has struggled since he was beaten convincingly by Calzaghe but as his fight against Froch showed, he still has a lot to offer. The fight was very much what you'd expect of two fighters who don't give way and who like to trade. Kessler though had a far superior jab and apart from the odd haymaker that Froch landed the fight never looked like being Frochs. Afterward his response was particularly telling, complaining of a "hometown advantage" but I don't think anyone other than Froch himself thought he'd won. It's certainly true the margin on two of the cards was flattering, but I don't think the actual result was in any doubt.

So where are we now? He faces Arthur Abraham next, probably the only man in the tournament with a better chin than Frochs and a bigger punch to go with it. There's no doubt that Abrahams style is even more to Frochs liking than Kessler's (and certainly Dirrells) but ultimately I just don't see him winning. Abraham, after his last fight has a lot of work to do to restore his record but more importantly for him his reputation. But then again, so does Froch. I also see that Froch has been insisting that despite a previous agreement, he's not prepared to fight Abraham in Germany for fear of the home boxers bias. While there's been a number of fights in recent history where home bias (or some type of bias at least) has had a part to play in the decision, Froch's loss to Kessler wasn't one of them. I think that it's going to be an interesting match up but ultimately one I don't think Froch will or indeed can win.

Coming back to the question this article posed which was did Carl Froch have the goods to back up his bold claims? I think the answer so far is clearly no. With the Super Six, he was given the opportunity he craved to fight the very best in his division but so far he's been shown to be pretty ordinary, slow and at times ridiculously easy to hit. He has an excellent chin for sure and can hit hard with both fists but as is always the case thats never enough for long term success at the highest levels. After this tournament has finished, which I think he has no chance of winning incidentally, I can see Froch continuing to meander through the Super Middleweight division desperately trying to pick up any fight he can to try and legitimise himself. The truth is though that he'll probably find himself in the wilderness as too risky a prospect with little return for the true quality in the division to fight. An unfortunate situation really as it will no doubt rob fighting fans of some potentially thrilling fights but I guess only time will tell.
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Article posted on 04.07.2010

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