Froch decisions Johnson

By John Gabriel Thompson: Beloved by fans for his “fight anywhere, with whatever notice, against whomever in their own backyard, and for all three minutes of every round he’s ever been in” attitude, forty-two year old Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson (51-15-2, 35 KO’s) fell a little short in his efforts against WBC super middleweight champion Carl “The Cobra” Froch (28-1, 20 KO’s) of Nottingham, England this evening In Atlantic City. Froch will now move on to the final stage of the Showtime Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament where he will face undefeated WBA champion Andre Ward.
From Jamaica and now living in Miami, Johnson possesses a fantastic resume including signature wins over Roy Jones, Jr., Antonio Tarver, Clinton Woods, Yusaf Mack, Daniel Judah, Montell Griffin, and Eric Harding. Johnson has also lost some razor close decisions to the likes of Chad Dawson and Tavoris Cloud. He has only been stopped once, by fellow forty-plus year old contemporary legend Bernard Hopkins. Moving down in weight to compete as a replacement in the Showtime Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament, Johnson made a fantastic start, knockout out fellow replacement Allen Green in the eighth round of their contest back in November.

One of the originals in the competition, Froch has had mixed results, winning a very close and somewhat controversial decision over Andre Dirrell in Froch’s hometown, then losing another very close decision against Mikkel Kessler in Kessler’s home of Denmark, before winning a resounding, one-sided victory over Arthur Abraham in Froch’s last bout. Prior to the Super Six Tournament, Froch won the vacant WBC title via unanimous decision over Jean Pascal in a fight of the year candidate back in 2008. Froch’s first defense of that title was a thrilling twelfth round stoppage of Jermaine Taylor, in the first professional bout in which Froch had ever been knocked down. Froch lost that belt to Kessler, but Kessler vacated the belt and left the tournament due to an eye injury, and Froch re-won the vacant belt with his win over Abraham.

The notoriously aggressive Johnson started slower than usual in the first round, but moved forward more in the second. Froch was content at that point to move away from Johnson and stick the jab, keeping distance between the two. Both men picked up the pace in the third as they came out jabbing each other. Froch landed many more punches throughout the round, but Johnson landed a huge right which seemed to bother Froch. Ringside commentator Al Bernstein said, “Carl Froch has landed a lot of punches here, so he’s still doing well offensively, but you get the feeling that Glen Johnson as we said is imposing his will.” Joining the announcing crew, Andre Ward said, “This fight is not a fight of skills, it’s a fight of wills.”

While the first three rounds were somewhat close rounds four, five and six all belonged to Froch as Johnson’s work rate slowed, while Froch let his hands go. Ward said in the fifth, “It’s not the Glen Johnson that we saw in the first two or three rounds.” In the sixth, Froch dropped his guard and stuck out his head to expose his chin to Johnson, supremely confident. Johnson did land a killer overhand right to the chin a moment later, but unfazed, Froch came right back with a flurry. Johnson mounted a comeback in the seventh landing a few good overhand rights and certainly took the eighth, landing the harder shots amidst great two way action. Ringside commentator Antonio Tarver kidded about another fight of the year candidate and Bernstein said, “You can press this round into your memory book; it’s a good one!”

Johnson slowed again in the ninth and Froch really let his hands go from that point on. He threw punches in bunches, from different angles, showing great ring generalship. Tarver gave him the nod, “This is how we want to see a champion fight.” Johnson landed some powerful rights in the tenth, but not one seemed to daze Froch, who would answer with excellent three, four, five or six punch combinations. Froch also swept the championship rounds, out-throwing and outworking a warrior best known for his relentless work rate.

The judge from Japan curiously scored the bout a draw (even Johnson seemed to know he had lost in the post fight interview admitting, “I kind of fell into his fight plan”), thought the other two judges scored it 117-111 (as I did) and 116-112 both for Froch. Al Bernstein summed up the bout, “Both men tonight, I think, represented boxing so well. This is what boxing’s all about.”

Also televised on Showtime, in a non tournament bout, the original Super Six favorite Mikkel “The Viking Warrior” Kessler (44-2, 33 KO’s) made an impressive comeback statement fighting for the first time in over a year against France’s Mehdi Bouadla (22-4, 10 KO’s). Fighting in his native Denmark, Kessler showed no indication of ring rust.

Kessler was the bigger man and used his height, reach and power advantages. He threw a high volume of punches, not letting Bouadla get into any rhythm. Bouadla showed good defense at first, blocking many of Kessler’s shots with his gloves. That changed in the third, when Kessler landed a huge overhand right during an exchange and Bouadla went down. While Bouadla was standing, waiting for the end of the eight count, he spit out his mouth guard presumably to buy himself time. The referee deducted a point from him for this action, resulting in a 10-7 round for Kessler. Kessler went to work as the action continued, pounding Bouadla into a corner. Bouadla attempted to fight back rather than hold, but he made it to the bell.

In the fourth, Bouadla was absorbing hard shots – overhand rights and uppercuts. Kessler landed one particularly hard right as Bouadla was throwing a looping left hook, and Bouadla, off balance, went down again. Bouadla had a better round in the fifth, though he was still absorbing haymakers from Kessler. Finally in the sixth Bouadla went down again from a series of haymakers to the body and head. Bouadla go up, but Kessler put him down again almost immediately with two left hooks to the body and a couple rights to the head. At that point the referee mercifully waved off the fight.

Article posted on 05.06.2011

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