by James Slater – As he revealed yesterday whilst an over-the-phone guest on The Setanta Sports Boxing Hour, WBC super-middleweight champion Carl Froch has recently been hearing Bernard Hopkins’ name come up with regards to men who possibly want to fight him next. Froch, who is confident enough or arrogant enough (take your pick) to think he can beat any man within the 168 to 172 pound range (Carl says he could box no higher than 172), would likely take a fight with B-Hop if the money was right. But would “The Cobra” be making a big mistake if he took a fight against the masterful 44-year-old? ..
Remember what “The Executioner” did to another peaking and reigning world champion back in October of last year? Kelly Pavlik, like Froch a big-punching and ultra-exciting star in the making, saw his unbeaten record and a good deal of his aura disappear after being handed a veritable boxing lesson by the Philly legend. Going into the October 2008 fight, most, if not all experts picked the younger man who hit so much harder to beat Hopkins – some even suggesting that Pavlik would maybe become the first man to ever stop the future Hall of Famer.
Instead, as we all know, Hopkins once again showed what an amazing fighter he is, and he gave the reigning middleweight champion a defeat he may still not have completely gotten over. And most fans/experts would tell you that Kelly Pavlik was and still is a far greater fighter than is Carl Froch. And Pavlik, too, is a harder puncher. Yet as we saw late last year, punching power means nothing against as clever and as cunning a boxing master as Hopkins. Adding further to the danger signs that are flashing when Froch thinks about a fight against B-Hop is the fact that Pavlik is also a better boxer than he is. Yet the Youngstown man’s long left jab and his fast and usually accurate hands could not help him against ‘Nard.
The more you think about it, the less sensible it looks for Froch to take a fight with Hopkins. As wide open to punches as he was last time out, against Jermain Taylor, would Froch’s defensive skills, such as they are, stand a chance against the precise counter-punching skills of the unbelievably well preserved 44-year-old? Froch would no doubt argue that his youth, his sheer strength, his fighting heart and the fact that he has beaten the man who twice upset Hopkins makes it clear he would top the man from Philadelphia. And Froch can argue well, so ultra-sure of himself is he.
But getting in the ring with Hopkins and making your game-plan stick, and effectively using your strengths against him is a whole different thing to just envisaging it. An expert at taking a rival’s best weapons away from him and making it his kind of fight, Hopkins has almost always been able to adapt to a rival. The only time he was recently unsuccessful at doing this was when he met windmill imitator Joe Calzaghe ( forget the two losses to Taylor, Hopkins won the first fight and the second could’ve gone either way). Though Hopkins made Calzaghe look quite ordinary at times last April, he was simply unable to dominate Joe due to his no-stop punch output. Tired late in the fight due to the pace the Welshman set, Hopkins faded and lost a debatable split decision. Carl Froch does not throw as many punches as Calzaghe, however, and he is unlikely to get to Hopkins the way Joe did.
Sure, Froch would have some chance against Hopkins – either in the form of seeing the veteran at last begin to show his age, or in the form of landing a real and perfectly delivered bomb – but don’t bet on either one of these scenarios happening for him. Hopkins, who is looking for another challenge now that the Tomasz Adamek fight is a no-no, doesn’t appear ready to be taken just yet. And as far as Froch landing a howitzer on his chin? Pavlik was unable to do so and he is a far more deadly and accurate shooter than is the Brit.
The fight may not happen, and if Froch has sense he will not push to make it happen. But if Froch Vs. Hopkins at a catch-weight of 170 or 172 pounds is announced in the coming weeks, you can bet money on the fact that fans everywhere will be picturing in their minds the sight of the smartest fighter of his generation picking apart another young fighter as he takes away both his perfect record and a whole load of his confidence.
Hopkins by wide UD if he does get Froch in a ring this year.