By James Slater – It’s still sinking in just how superbly Carl Froch boxed against the formidable Arthur Abraham this past Saturday. A good many fans and some experts were shocked at the way “The Cobra,” a fighter normally associated with battle of attrition-type affairs, reverted back to the box and move approach he was known for as an amateur.
Even Froch himself must have been somewhat surprised at the way he thoroughly dominated “King” Arthur; surely the now two-time WBC 168-pound boss cannot have expected to win every minute of every round! But that’s just what he did, and in so doing Froch came out of the fight with barely a mark on his face.. It wasn’t that the fight was easy; it’s just that Froch, as is the case with all the great ones, made it LOOK easy. The question now is, will Froch, a man who has given us some truly thrilling wars, adopt the tactics he used against Abraham in all future fights?
Instead of looking to take his opponent into the deep waters, at the same time putting himself through hell and giving the paying fans the kind of action that keeps them coming back for more, Froch showed he can also box his way to victory. The less punishing route to victory that Froch travelled in Finland was far from boring to watch, but then again, the fight was no way near as entertaining as his battles with either Jean Pascal or Jermain Taylor – for those fans who love to see sheer violence more than they love to appreciate The Sweet Science anyway. There was plenty to marvel at during the once-beaten 33-year-old’s master class showing, and purists will no doubt enjoy seeing Froch box so intelligently again.
And so we come to the WBC super-middleweight ruler’s next fight; his next step in the “Super Six” tournament. Which tactics will Froch choose to adopt against the clever, the vastly experienced and the tough-as-nails Glen Johnson?
Had the Abraham victory not taken place, and if Froch were set to face “The Road Warrior” next week, people everywhere would be expecting a real war; a battle of blood and guts with whichever of the two men it was who wanted it more getting the victory. In other words, we would be getting ready for what we all thought we’d see from Froch-Abraham. But now, in attempting to put together a game-plan for his fight with Froch, 41-year-old Johnson will have a tougher time. Which version of Froch will turn up against Johnson?
Of course, the Jamaican is a fighter full of surprises himself, and he can do more than just go into the trenches to pull out a win. After all, the seemingly ageless former light-heavyweight king shocked and surprised many due to the way he became the first man to stop Allan Green in the fight that marked his “Super Six” arrival. But, it must be noted how Johnson has fallen victim to practitioners of classy and smart boxing in recent fights. Both Chad Dawson (in their second fight) and Antonio Tarver (also in the second fight) boxed their way to a win against the slower-footed Johnson, and maybe Froch will look at tapes of those fights and decide that it is better to box and move against Johnson than it is to go to war with him.
Again, it’s tough for some fans to look at Froch as a master boxer, especially considering how he was known only to them as a tough but crude slugger who paid scant attention to defence. But Saturday’s excellent showing proved to his critics what Froch knew all along: that he CAN pretty much do it all in the ring when he puts his mind to it. Glen Johnson now has to prepare himself for a fight against a smart and speedy boxer, yet at the same time he just might wind up facing the “old” Froch; the warrior who loves nothing more than to turn up the heat in the ring.
Seeing as how perfectly it all went for him when he reverted back to his former boxing days, Froch will almost certainly think about fighting the same way next time out. Why deviate from an approach that brought him a performance that he himself says was his best yet?
Can Froch outbox Johnson as effectively and as totally as he did Abraham? If he does do so, it will not come as anything like the huge shock it did when he took the former middleweight champion to school on Saturday night – as great as such a win would be for him. Now, post-Abraham, fans might even be expecting Froch to make his opponents look ineffective and clueless!
How will Johnson deal with Froch’s fast and frequent left jab? Will the veteran do a better than Abraham did when it comes to cutting down the ring on Froch? Will Johnson’s old legs be able to keep up with “The Cobra’s” fast pace?
This “Super Six” semi-final promises to be one incredibly interesting fight!