by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) – This week’s 144th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with reigning WBC super middleweight champion Carl “The Cobra” Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) who is scheduled to have a unification bout against WBA champion Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) in the Super Six Final, which has now been rescheduled for December 17. Froch spoke about his upcoming fight and also spoke about his career experiences and his future. He also touched on a variety of other topics including Bute versus Johnson, Bernard Hopkins, Mikkel Kessler, the return of Andre Dirrell, and more! Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
JENNA J: Let’s move to our second guest of this week’s show. He is the reigning WBC super middleweight champion of the world making his sixth appearance to On the Ropes. We’re joined by “The Cobra”, Carl Froch. How’s everything going today, Carl?
CARL FROCH: Yeah, very good, very good. I’m doing very well. Thank you.
JENNA: Excellent to hear. Let’s talk about the big story that’s going around in the super middleweight division. Andre Ward had to postpone your fight. What were your first thoughts when you heard about him pulling out of the fight?
FROCH: I was initially disappointed, mainly for the fans because I’ve got a big influx of fans buying tickets and booking flights and organizing accommodations. So initially I was disappointed, but they’ll get refund on all the stuff. They can delay the flight for a small admin fee. So after a couple of hours of just working that out I wasn’t too flustered to be honest. I’ve gone through my whole career with people pulling out and being delayed, and vacating titles and stuff. So I’m pretty hardened to the fact that people can pull out of fights. It’s never really straightforward for me. You know, I’m happy now that it’s rescheduled and not a cancellation. So the fight will just go back.
JENNA: Alright now at the time Ward got cut it was 35 days before the October 29 date. Did you feel that he should have stuck with that fight date even with the cut and gone into it with shorter healing time?
FROCH: Well I’ll be honest, I’ve not seen the cut. I don’t know how bad it is. I just know that if I would have been caught in the same position as what he was then I would have gone through with it. I know for a fact I would have gone through, because I got cut a week before a fight once and my friend David Haye got cut quite badly five weeks before the John Ruiz fight. A cut’s a cut. Cuts heal. He can patch it up and get on with it, but he felt he needed to pull out. So he’s pulled out and the fight has been rescheduled. There’s nothing I can do about it so I’m not mad about it.
JENNA: Okay Carl, now with the fight being rescheduled for December 17, do you think that cut will play any factor at all when you two finally do get in the ring?
FROCH: I don’t know. He’s got a lot of time. It’s in December. Like I said earlier five weeks is enough to heal a cut. I’ve been cut before. It heals in a week or two. I don’t think it’s going to be a factor. It could open up, but who’s to say it opened up because it was an old cut or if it would have opened anyway. There is no medical evidence to say that a cut is weak because of a previous cut. Sometimes scar tissue heals harder than original tissue, so that might be a strong point and not a weak point. You know you’d have to ask the medical professionals that one. I mean he’s had a plastic surgeon fix it, so I presume they will have done a really good job on it. In two or three months or whatever, that would be a long time for that cut to heal. It is what it is. If he gets directly on that point then it could open up. If he uses his head as well, because he does tend to stick his head in there quite a lot. Ward might be a little bit reluctant to use his head so the cut might be a good thing.
JENNA: Now Carl when do you expect yourself to restart training camp?
FROCH: Well I’m having a week off because I’ve trained for about ten weeks. I’m going t o have a week off now. I’m actually away on holiday at the minute relaxing in a place called the Center Parcs in England. They’ve got different locations all over the country, and I’m spending a relaxing time in the woods with my partner Rachel and my son Rocco and his grandparents. So I’m just going to have a week of just doing a bit of cycling and swimming and forget about boxing for a week to ten days. Like I said, it’s worked out in my favor because my trainer Robert McCracken is actually training the Olympic team and he’s over in Azerbaijan for two weeks with the Olympic squad in the world championship. So this fight actually being rescheduled has worked out in my favor, because I’ve not got Robert McCracken now for two weeks, which was a bad thing really for me. So he’s back when I start up my training, so everything worked out pretty good really. I’m quite pleased about it all.
JENNA: Now Carl do you have any fear of overtraining for the fight being that you’re only having a week off, and it will be almost a four month training camp?
FROCH: I’m 34 years old and I’ve been fighting since I was 10. The reason I told you that is just to make the point I know what I’m doing. I know what my body is telling me and I know how I feel. I know exactly where I am because I analyze all my training. Scientifically, with sports science, I’m qualified in that as well without sounding like a big head. I know exactly what to do and I know exactly where my body is. I’ll take a week to ten days off and I’ll slowly get myself back into it, and I’ll be firing on all cylinders when it comes fight time. You know this won’t hinder me. Let’s just hope I could get the right sparring in. Hopefully we’ll get the correct sparring closer to this December date. I’m not looking forward to the cold early morning runs, though. It’s going to be freezing! (laughs)
JENNA: Well it’s great to hear that you will be 100% when that fight actually happen. I’m going to go to my Co-Host Geoff Ciani.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Carl. It’s a great pleasure to have you back on the show.
FROCH: Yeah, no problem. It’s a pleasure to be on.
CIANI: Carl since this tournament started I see a lot of fans highlighting you as the fighter who’s improved the most, where a lot of fans say you’ve gone from more of a crude brawler and transformed into a more intelligent boxer who can execute and stick with a game plan. Would you consider those views true, or do you think this who were referring to you as a crude brawler are selling your talents short from when you entered the tournament?
FROCH: Well you got to remember I won two national titles as an amateur, and I was the first Englishmen to win a medal and a world championship. You don’t win amateur titles like that and become top three in the world as an amateur if you can’t box and you can’t use your skills because that kind fighting, crude brawling, doesn’t win anything in the amateurs. So you know, the people that call me a crude brawler have obviously seen my fight against Jean Pascal and probably my comeback fight against Jermain Taylor when I came back from being down on the score to knock him out in the twelfth round. That’s fair enough! They’re entitled to their opinion if they had seen me in those two fights only and they think that’s all that I got. Then they watch me wipe the floor with Abraham and put up a flawless boxing master class, and they realized this kid can fight and box. So you know, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don’t pay any attention to anybody’s opinion, so it doesn’t make any difference to me at all. I’m quite happy for people to feel that I’m a brawler, or think that I’m a fighter/boxer, or think that I’ve got loads of skills. Either way it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care to be honest.
CIANI: Well do you personally feel that you have grown and developed as a fighter throughout the course of the Super Six? In other words, do you believe you’re a better fighter now than you were going into your fight with Andre Dirrell?
FROCH: I think every single fight you have, regardless of what stage of your career you’re at, you’re developing and learning as a fighter because you become more hardened. You become toughened to the different environments and different circumstances in the ring, i.e., getting put down by Jermain Taylor. You know that was a learning curve. Andre Dirrell running and holding, and jumping on the floor and moaning, you know he was fast, he was awkward, he was negative. That was a learning fight. The loss against Mikkel Kessler, I’ve learned but I’m no different than everybody else. You know I’ve evolved as the tournament has gone on. Ward will be a better fighter than he was when he started, as were all the other boxers who have now been eliminated. So yeah, I’ve definitely developed but that’s a natural progression. That’s something that has to happen.
CiANI: Now you mentioned earlier about when you do fight Ward, about him using his head. He’s known for some rough house tactics and perhaps a little bit of bending the rules. In the case he does that when you and him do square off, how do you think you’ll respond if he employs those type of tactics?
FROCH: I’ll respond within the rules of boxing. You know. If the referee sees him bending the rules or trying to do anything underhanded, it’s the official’s job on the night to sort that out. But I’ll say this, if the official doesn’t sort it out, I will! It will be interesting for people to watch because they’ll see what happens. But I’m not going to make threats or accusations and I’m not going to talk about what I’m going to do if somebody blatantly head-butts me in the face—I won’t be letting him get away with it! Let’s put it that way. In all honesty, with his cut above his eyebrow, Ward is probably going to be a little bit paranoid about using his head now, because it might open that cut or open up a new cut, which he won’t really want to do in this fight. That’s the last thing you want in a fight of this magnitude.
CIANI: Now I’m curious Carl, a lot of fans still are not sold on Andre Ward’s ability to take a big punch. I’m curious what your assessment of his chin and his ability to absorb a big shot is?
FROCH: Well I’ve seen him take a punch, well he didn’t take it. He got hit with it and he went over. I can’t remember the name of the guy that hit him. He hit him with a straight right and then an uppercut and Ward looked like he was in pretty bad shape to be honest. Since that fight he seems to have employed these tactics where he’s either on the move, totally at a distance, or he’s up close smothering his work and being rough. I think that’s an attempt to not get hit and not be in punching range, which is good tactics but it’s not exciting to watch. Although it gets the job done, because he’s undefeated, but it’s not the best tactics against hardened, seasoned, experienced professional like myself. His chin is definitely suspect. There are definitely question marks around it because he’s been over and he looked badly hurt. I actually feel that fight when it was over I thought he lost the fight. It was a six rounder. He lost that round, I think it was round four 10-8, and then he held on for dear life in rounds five and six. So on my scorecard, he lost that fight. You can put question marks around somebody’s chin and you can think and say what you want based on previous fights. But you can’t draw an overall assessment of somebody having a weak chin because he’s been put down once. You know I’ve been put down myself, and I know I have a solid chin and I know I can take a punch. He would have learned from that knockdown. He would have grown and developed mentally, and physically maybe have gotten his legs stronger. To answer your question, can he take a punch? We’ll find out when I connect because I’m a big puncher and I will hit him, but I’m not going to go into the fight thinking that I’m going to knock him out easy because he’s got a weak jaw. That would be foolish of me.
CIANI: You mentioned before how you think every fight is a learning experience where you pick something up. I’m wondering, how much of what you’ve learned in recent years do you credit to your trainer McCracken?
FROCH: Yeah, definitely. You know he’s taught me what I needed to know to go fully prepared into every fight. Every battle I go in there prepared and ready for anything that comes at me, but you can’t teach experience. Experience comes from fighting and going through the occasion of actually being in the fight. That’s been built up over the last nine years as a professional and about fifteen years as an amateur prior to that. I only have Robert McCracken to thank and to give credit for what I’ve learned in the professionals. There was nobody else because Rob’s the only one I’ve ever worked with. So it’s a combination of his skills, tactics, and experience and my actually competing at a top level. It’s got me to where I am today. I’m a solid seasoned professional. I’m not an old man, but I’ve been a pro nine years and I’ve been in with some of the best of them, and I’ve proven time and time again that I can fight, I can box, I can take a punch, I can go into the trenches and drag people in there with me, and then come out on the other end on top. With that kind of experience and war craft that I got, it’s going to see me walk through Ward on the night. I’m going to walk through him. I’m going to hit him hard and often. He’s not going to know what’s happening. He’s going to be out of his comfort zone from round one, and if it goes twelve rounds, then from round one through round twelve he’s going to be unhappy and uncomfortable. I honestly can’t see it going twelve rounds.
JENNA: Okay Carl, now your last fight was against Glen Johnson and overall you looked good. The scorecards were a little bit off. It certainly should have never been a majority decision, but in regard to Johnson his next fight is going to be against Lucian Bute on November 5. I’m curious how you assess that fight and how you think Lucian Bute will do with arguably the toughest opponent of his career?
FROCH: Yeah you know, it’s the toughest opponent of his career. He’s been a world champion for I don’t know how long, and it’s a steady fight really fighting Johnson. I mean no disrespect to Johnson, but he’s past his best. He’s a 42 year old man and he fades down the stretch. Lucian Bute is going to win on points. That’s basically what’s going to happen. He might get caught with a couple of shots on his way to winning on points. If he gets caught flush he could go, but I can’t see that happening. I can’t see him getting caught with anything stupid. He will use his boxing skills. He’ll keep Johnson at range. He’s seen what he needs to do to beat Johnson. He’s seen me beat him. He’s seen Johnson lose quite a few times and Bute is good enough to keep himself out of harm’s danger, and keep himself safe, keep his chin out of the way, and just box and move and pick up the points. I presume that fight will be in the Bell Centre in Canada in his back garden, so you know he will win every round on points and it will be a one-sided score. Like I said, there is the danger of him getting caught by the old veteran but not much of a danger, to be honest. Johnson has seen better days and I took a lot out of him as well in that fight. Towards the end of the fight he really wanted to go Johnson. He was like a broken man and I was in second gear for most of the evening, just looking to get that fight out of the way. So I didn’t really put it on as much as I could have. It was a quite comfortable night’s work for me. I don’t see Bute having too much trouble. No disrespect to Johnson, but he’s had his day. His best days have been and gone. He’s just sort of hanging around now. I just hope Johnson just goes through the rest of his career. I hope it’s a short one and he decides to turn it in soon. I hope he makes plenty of money, keeps safe, and does well. I’m sure he will. I don’t think Bute could hurt him, anyway. Bute’s not really a big puncher. Bute’s a guy that I don’t really rate. He’s not a great fighter, to be honest. He got beat by Librado Andrade. He got knocked out but Librado Andrade, but somehow managed to win on points! I’ll let you work that one out, but that’s got something to do with being in Cananda is what happened.
JENNA: Carl, a lot of people talk about what’s next for the Super Six winner. Obviously it hasn’t happened yet and you don’t like to look ahead. You as a fighter, after you get out of this tournament are you going to be looking for another tough fight with a Lucian Bute or a Mikkel Kessler, or do you think like Andre Ward that maybe after such a tough tournament they should have an easier fight coming out of it?
FROCH: Well if I’m looking for a tough fight it wouldn’t be against Lucian Bute because that wouldn’t be a tough fight, would it now? It would be an easy fight! Maybe Kessler, that would be a tough fight. Bernard Hopkins, that would be a tough fight. A rematch with Pascal, that would also be a tough fight and a good fight. Those sort of names are probably at the top of the list: Kessler, Hopkins, Bute in that order. The Super Six champion can’t fight all of these people. So the runner-up in the Super Six tournament, the guy who finishes in second place, which as far as I’m concerned is going to be Andre Ward, they’re going to have to fight one or two of the other names as well. So it’s interesting, and there are plenty of options for the winner and the loser of the Super Six tournament.
JENNA: Carl do you expect Mikkel Kessler to have any trouble in his November 5 fight against Robert Stieglitz?
FROCH: No, not at all to answer your question.
CIANI: You mentioned a moment ago how there are going to be a lot of options out there. For you as a fighter, how exciting is that to know that even after this big event like the Super Six when it finally does end, you mentioned Hopkins, there’s Bute, there’s Kessler—how does it feel to be in a division where there is that abundance of talent where you can prove yourself against these other great fighters?
FROCH: It’s like the norm. It’s normality. I’ve been in this tournament for the last two years and I’ve fight after fight after fight against top level opposition. For me to come out of this tournament and still be involved with top level opposition is just normal to me. There is nothing exciting or different about it. It’s just how my career is. Look at my last six fights. They’ve all been top level elite opposition that I’m fighting. There has been no steady warm-ups, or easy defenses, or interim fights. It’s been tough. There’s been Pascal, Taylor, Dirrell the Olympic Bronze Medalist, then there’s been Kessler, then Abraham, then Johnson the veteran, and now I’ve got Ward the Gold Medalist. So fight after fight after fight I’m involved in these tough fights. It’s just normal for me. After this tournament I’ll have a few top level fights. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t motivated to fight journeymen from hell who come in and just try to survive, hold, and keep away, especially at this stage in my career. I’ve fought for the WBC title now six or seven times. I’ve lost it and won it back in style. I’m enjoying myself. For me to just now fight somebody just for the sake of fighting them for an easy win, that won’t motivate me. I’ll probably end up struggling against somebody that’s low level because I probably wouldn’t take the training as seriously as I should. This is where I’m at. Every time I fight I’m in physical peak performance because I need to be, because I’ve locked position.
CIANI: When you look back to the beginning of the tournament, before it started, what surprised you most about how things have unfolded since the beginning?
FROCH: Probably Andre Dirrell pulling out and coming out of the tournament. That was a big surprise, because I just thought he’s young, he’s fresh, and he’s talented. After fighting him maybe I should have seen it coming because I realized he had no heart, and you need a heart to fight as a top level professional boxer. Dirrell’s lacking that, so when I learned that he had no heart maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that he pulled. It was a surprise that he came out of the tournament. It wasn’t really a surprise Kessler getting beat away from home against Ward. Ward head-butted him and opened up a cut. You could see that coming after round two or three or four. This wasn’t looking in Kessler’s favor. Abraham, I always thought he was a middleweight so it was no surprise that he didn’t really do very well. Taylor pulling out, I knew he was at the end of his career after I beat him so I wasn’t surprised he didn’t last through the tournament. It all unfolded pretty much like I thought it would, but I didn’t expect Andre Dirrell to be as weak as he is mentally for somebody who has quite a lot of physical attributes and who’s quite a skillful boxer. For him to be so mentally weak, you have got to be a warrior in this game. You have got to be tough and strong both physically and mentally. That disappointed me, not that I’m bothered. But if you’re asking me what surprised me the most, then that is.
JENNA: Alright well Carl, I just have a couple of more questions before I let you off the line. You mentioned Andre Dirrell and he’s actually coming back in November. What do you expect from him when he returns to boxing?
FROCH: I expect him to fight somebody who can’t fight and probably run rings around him to be honest, because he’s quite skillful and he has fast hands. But the minute he fights anybody that puts it on him who’s tough and strong like myself or Kessler, I expect him to fall apart at the seams and come undone, because I’ve not seen anything in his repertoire that tells me he can mix it at world level yet. Even the one-sided eight or nine rounds against Abraham didn’t look good. The minute Abraham caught him and put him over and hurt him, he fell apart and looked for a way out. A lot of people are questioning what went down with that. I actually think he was hurt genuinely, which is not a good sign.
JENNA: You know Carl, interestingly enough his brother is now ranked number one. He’s your mandatory after this tournament. What are your thoughts on Anthony Dirrell being a possible opponent for you in the future?
FROCH: Oh, Anthony Dirrell! Is that his brother that hangs around with him? I didn’t know that so I don’t really have any comment. I didn’t know he boxed, to be honest.
JENNA: So you didn’t know he was your number one, huh?
FROCH: What’s he number one for the WBC?
JENNA: Yeah, he’s ranked now.
FROCH: Well Kessler’s the interim champion so I suppose he’s number one, but if he’s number one after that then whatever. I’m not worried Andre Dirrell. I don’t know what Anthony Dirrell has done or what he can do, but I’ve never heard of him. I don’t mean any disrespect, but I never heard of him so I’m obviously not thinking about him. So I can’t really answer your question because I don’t know the kid.
JENNA: Alright well that’s fair. So in your fight with Andre Ward, what do you think you will do in the ring that will surprise Andre the most?
FROCH: I don’t know if I’m going to surprise him, but I’m going to certainly take him into territory that he’s never been in before and stick it on him. I’m going to show him what it’s like to fight a true champion that’s in the ring wanting to win, wanting to do the business, and wanting to cause some damage on his opponent. That’s what I do when I fight. I get in there with a whole lot of hate on my opponent, and I try and do some serious damage, and I punch very hard, and I’m always in tip-top shape, very fit, very strong, very determined, and I can take a punch. So he’s going to have a lot of questions in his own mind when he fights me. Whether or not he’s going to be surprised to me doesn’t really matter. I’ll still execute my game plan and do what I need to do to be victorious on the night.
JENNA: And finally, what can the fans expect from the fight?
FROCH: What can the fans expect? They can expect me to beat Andre Ward however necessary, with whatever I need to do. It depends on what he does. If he comes to try and run and keep out of the way and realizes how hard I punch early on, he might just get on his bike and start jabbing, and running, and moving. That’s the thing about boxing. You never know what to expect. All I can promise is I’m going to do what I need to do to make the fight and to win the fight. I can’t predict what Ward’s going to bring. When he finds out how hard I hit he might go on his bike and try to survive.
JENNA: Alright well Carl, it’s been an absolute pleasure as always having you On the Ropes and the fight is now rescheduled for December 17. I’m looking forward to it and wish you the best of luck on the night.
FROCH: Brilliant. Appreciate that, and it’s always a pleasure talking to you. Thanks very much.
CIANI: Thank you, Carl. It was a great pleasure to have you back on the show.
FROCH: You’re welcome, anytime. Thank you. Cheers.
For those interested in listening to the Carl Froch interview in its entirety, it begins approximately thirty-seven minutes into the program.
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