By Terence Dooley
Bob Shannon's Fighting Fit Gym is situated less than a mile away from Manchester City's Etihad stadium in central Manchester. The veteran trainer and expert cutsman hopes that the football club's recent Premier league title success will filter through to his stable of fighters and bring fresh inspiration after a recent run of tough results; he also believes that Carl Froch is destined to bring boxing silverware to the U.K. once the dust settles on Froch's dust up with Lucian Bute in Nottingham tomorrow night.
Shannon was disappointed when Matty Askin and Matthew Hatton lost on points to Jon Lewis Dickenson and Kell Brook in March and April respectively, but the coach believes that City's success, plus Chelsea's Champion's League victory, which saw the London underdogs overcome Barcelona and Bayern Munich to net the trophy for the first time in their history, proves that if you continue to work hard then success will come your way. Shannon insists that both men proved a lot in defeat and that a loss is not the end of a fighter's career.
Indeed, Shannon feels that Askin in particular learned a lot from his English cruiserweight title loss to Dickenson, who lost to Tyrone Wright and Richard Turba in 2010 only to come back strong against the "Assassin" to register a deserved decision win by scores of 98-93 and two lots of 97-93.
"Barry McGuigan told me that Matty lost a learning fight and there is nothing wrong with that," said Shannon when speaking to Boxingscene. "Matty lost out to that little edge in experience, but he will be back and still has a great future in front of him. Matthew [Hatton] also came up a little bit short against Kell Brook and that was a disappointment, but not many guys would have lasted the distance after picking up a damaged nose in the early rounds. Both lads are a credit to themselves and the sport of boxing."
He added: "Look at Manchester City. They were underdogs for years and then won the league after a thrilling battle with Manchester United, which was similar to two great fighters going toe-to-toe and one of them [City] scoring a big KO win in the final seconds of the final minute of the last round. It was a great boost for the city of Manchester and with my gym being right on the doorstep of City who knows, the lads could draw inspiration from what the club has done. It is great that the city of Manchester is doing so well in both football and boxing – I'm proud to be part of it and to be working with great lads like Matty, Matthew and [Commonwealth welterweight titlist] Denton Vassell. Big things could be just around the corner. It is all about believing in yourself and working hard, which is what we do at my Fighting Fit gym."
Shannon also believes that the U.K.'s sporting success will continue this Saturday night when Carl “The Cobra” Froch meets IBF super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute at Nottingham's Capital FM Arena. Froch, 28-2 (2), will enjoy home advantage for the first time since beating Andre Dirrell at the same venue in October 2009. His recent run of fights has seen him take on Mikkel Kessler (a decision defeat in Denmark), Arthur Abraham (a decision win in Helsinki), Glen Johnson (a points win in Atlantic City) and Andre Ward, who out-pointed the 34-year-old in the final of the inaugural Super Six tournament on December 17.
Froch clearly relishes a challenge. Eddie Hearn, Froch's promoter, recently told Boxingscene that the meeting with Bute is a big gamble, but that he expects his man to come through and hand the French Canadian his first defeat in 30 bouts – all wins with 24 KOs. Shannon shares Hearn's faith in Froch, the trainer feels that the crowd will roar their man on, but he was quick to warn Froch to stick to boxing rather than brawling.
“I am going for Carl to win this one on points,” said Shannon. “It is a big task. Bute is undefeated and very accomplished, but I think Carl can do this one for Britain if he sticks to his boxing, doesn't get carried away looking for a tear up with Bute and feeds off the crowd without getting caught up in their passion.
“Look at the guys Carl has faced recently, he has never shirked a challenger and doesn't fear anyone. Carl is one of those guys who just goes out there and does his job no matter who he is facing. The only worry is that he does like to have a bit of a fight and can't afford to do that with Bute, who will use his southpaw style to punish Carl if he makes any mistakes.
“Fights like this don't come often, then again Carl has a habit of taking on the best in the world when they're at the top of their game! I would love to see him do this. I think he is capable of sticking to boxing. He can use his jab and will come through the tough stretches to win on points, but it is essential that he remembers to use his boxing because he has good reach and attributes when he decides to use them. It all adds up to a great night of boxing for the fans in the Arena, the people watching on Sky TV and the American TV audience, who know all about Carl's bravery and grit, but may be surprised once again by just how good a boxer he can be on his night.”
Shannon's final message for Froch was a pragmatic one: listen to his trainer Robert McCracken's advice and bring in a W. He said: “Carl, we all know how brave and tough you are, but there's more to you than that and I'm sure you and Robert have a great plan, stick to it and bring home that IBF belt. Good luck.”
Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.