Boxing

Is Carl Froch the Best British Fighter Since Lennox Lewis?

by Geoffrey Ciani - Former undisputed champion of the world Lennox Lewis is often viewed by fans as the last great heavyweight champion of the world. In addition to being one of the only boxers in history to beat every man he ever faced, Lewis is also widely viewed as one of the best, if not the best British fighter of all-time. Since his retirement, there have been a handful of other great British fighters including the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, and David Haye. The best British fighter since Lewis, however, is undoubtedly none other than WBC super middleweight Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch. At first glance many fans might be inclined to dispute this claim, but when one delves deeper beneath the surface this truth becomes self-evident. Let us examine how the other contenders measure up against ‘The Cobra’.

Like Lewis before him, David Haye holds a portion of the heavyweight title. He is also a former unified cruiserweight champion. To date, his best win is probably against former two-time title holder John Ruiz. Haye managed to batter the shopworn Ruiz for nine rounds dropping him five times in the process, but since making the jump to heavyweight, however, Haye has created a lot more noise with his mouth than his fists. He essentially talked his way into having a mega fight against one of the Klitschko brothers without accomplishing anything of note. He then proceeded to pull out of scheduled fights with both of them within a matter of months. In his most recent bout he easily stopped former Gold Medal winner, fellow countryman, and undeserving challenger Audley Harrison. His best wins at cruiserweight are impressive but his resume leaves a lot to be desired especially at heavyweight. When compared to the great Lennox Lewis, Haye seems much less inclined to consistently seek out the best challenges.

Ricky Hatton is a former world champion in both the welterweight and junior welterweight divisions. He first won the title by defeating 2010 Hall of Fame Inductee Kostya Tszyu. It was an extraordinary victory for Hatton. At the time, it seemed as if this was only the beginning and that he would move on to bigger and better. Unfortunately for Hatton, things did not play out that way. Looking back on it, the Tsyzu victory represented the high point in his career. His dedication and work ethic became a subject of debate. The two times he stepped up in class following the Tsyzu fight, he was knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Junior and Manny Pacuqiao. When compared to the long reign of Lennox Lewis, Hatton peaked quickly and fizzled out.

Then we have Joe Calzaghe who was arguably the greatest super middleweight of all-time. Calzaghe had a record twenty-one title defenses during a reign which spanned more than ten years. On the tail end of his career, Calzaghe moved up in weight and had his first two fights in the United States when he defeated future Hall of Famers Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Junior. The Hopkins split decision victory was undoubtedly his greatest victory. Calzaghe clearly has a better case than Hatton and Haye. Like Lewis, Calzaghe had a long title reign and he beat every man he ever faced inside the squared circle as a professional. It can be argued, however, that he was often reluctant to fight outside his region and that he did not always seem to consistently take on the best challenges.

A lot of fans might have difficulty rating Carl Froch ahead of Joe Calzaghe, but when one delves beneath the surface of Calzaghe’s undefeated record, it becomes clear as day. Yes, ‘The Cobra’ has a loss on his record at the hands of Mikkel Kessler, who just so happens to be a former Calzaghe victim. Froch’s loss was of the razor-thin variety, and a strong argument can be made that ‘The Cobra’ at least deserved a draw. He was, after all, fighting in Kessler’s backyard of Herning, Denmark and had only arrived at the venue city a couple of days before the scheduled bout due to the ash clouds set off the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

Going beyond that initial common opponent comparison, everything favors ‘The Cobra’. Froch won the vacant WBC super middleweight title back in December 2008 when he defeated current WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal by unanimous decision. He then traveled to the United States to take on the still highly regarded former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, whom he beat by dramatic come from behind twelfth round knockout. After that, he outhustled a very game Andre Dirrell in Group Stage 1 of the Super Six Boxing Classic. Following his close and disputed loss against Kessler in Group Stage 2, Froch bounced back and showed his true championship character when he thoroughly dominated and outclassed Arthur Abraham in a bout many observers were expecting ‘The Cobra’ to lose. For Froch, that was five fights in a row against elite level opposition—something Joe Calzaghe never did. He also showed a greater willingness to not only fight the best, but to fight them outside the comfort zone of his region.

Froch is now slated to face the extremely tough veteran and former champion Glen Johnson in the Super Six Semi-Finals. Should he win this bout which most expect will happen, he will then square off against the Andre Ward-Arthur Abraham winner in the Finals. That will make seven consecutive world class title bouts for Froch in a row, which again, is something no British fighter since Lennox Lewis (or even perhaps including Lennox Lewis) can claim. Should Froch win the Super Six, he may well go down as an even greater fighter than the great Lennox Lewis himself. Froch’s willingness to consistently take on the best personifies what it means to be a world champion. Ricky Hatton suffered knockout losses when he stepped up in class, David Haye seems reluctant to even step up in class, and Joe Calzaghe only stepped up in class during the tail-end of his career against one fighter who was in his 40s and another who was well past his best.

When one thinks of the great champion Lennox Lewis was, his desire to prove himself and challenge himself was one of his most admirable championship qualities. In light of that, Carl Froch is the one British fighter who best emulates that.

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Article posted on 30.12.2010



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