Will 'The Cobra's' venom snare a victim?

20.01.05 - By Steve Mckenna: CARL Froch clearly doesn't care about making enemies. The Nottingham super-middleweight, who last year had the audacity to claim he was the most talented sportsman in Britain, is losing friends every time he opens his mouth. Brian Magee is the latest compatriot to come under fire from 'The Cobra', whose venom appears to grow stronger by the month. Froch can now add Magee to the list of names he has baited – but failed – to lure into the ring. The Ulster fighter has rejected the chance to challenge for Froch's British and Commonwealth crowns, preferring instead to go down the European title route. According to Froch, this means he's running scared – just like Joe Calzaghe, Robin Reid and Tony Dodson. Boxers are notoriously confident people, on the outside at least..

But Froch's arrogance is such that it's seems he genuinely believes what he's saying. So is he for real? Or is he just another hyped-up fighter who's bound to get his comeuppance? A star amateur who picked up a bronze medal at the World Championships, Froch was tipped by many to make a real impact when he entered the paid ranks. And his first two and a half years as a professional have been largely impressive. He's gone down the traditional road, collecting British and Commonwealth titles and beating a mixture of tough domestic journeymen and hard-nosed
imports. He's displayed a wide array of shots, good combination punching, a sturdy chin and, at times, chilling power. But he's also often looked lazy and vulnerable to right hands.

His fight with Charles Adamu for the vacant Commonwealth belt last March perhaps summed up the best and worse of Froch. He looked far from top-drawer in the early stages and was caught way too often by the Ghanaian's punches. To his credit, though, he floored his tough opponent with a powerful shot at the end of the eighth round, and took over in the latter stages. Since then, Froch has disposed of gutsy Canadian Mark Woolnough, by way of an 11th round stoppage. And, last time out, he destroyed Derby's Damon Hague inside the opening three minutes. So where does this leave him?

Froch is good, there's no doubt about that. But it's doubtful we'll find out whether or not he's the real McCoy for some time. It is a shame he, and promoter Mick Hennessy, can't secure a big fight with one of his domestic rivals. One can sympathise with Froch when he says: “Why doesn't anyone want to prove they are the best anymore?" The proliferation of titles and promotional wranglings means it takes a huge amount of effort and compromise to get top fighters to face each other these days. Froch against any leading British 12-stoner would be worth watching.

Unfortunately, the chances of the bouts happening are slim. Attempts to match him and Dodson appear doomed because of the Liverpudlian's persistent injury problems. Calzaghe sees himself a level above Froch at this stage and has eyes on the light-heavyweight division. Magee and Reid, who squared off last summer in a foul-filled clash, would be ideal opponents for Froch this year. Neither really have anywhere else to go and a win over

'The Cobra' would earn them decent money and propel them towards a top world title tilt. But, with both appearing to be on the slide, the smart money would be on Froch beating both so it's unlikely that those fights will happen. Instead the 27-year-old will probably have to be content with more foreign opposition and, as to the question of his true potential, the jury is likely to be out for some time. But, for him and the sake of long-suffering British boxing fans, wouldn't it be nice if his headline-grabbing volleys of abuse made a surprise paid off?

Article posted on 20.01.2005

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