By Jake Donovan
It might be Glen Johnson whom is often referred to as boxng’s ultimate road warrior, but if there’s a fighter over the past two years who is more deserving of the honor, it’s Carl Froch.
The pride of Nottingham, England will fight in his fourth country in as many fights when he faces Johnson next Saturday at the Adrian Philips Ballroom in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It will also mark his first bout in the United States since his thrilling come-from-behind knockout of Jermain Taylor more than two years ago.
He is now one win away from advancing to the finals and for the past year or so has rated no worse than in the Top Three amongst the best super middleweights.
Yet it won’t be until the final bell of next weekend’s bout when Froch finally earns the long overdue respect from the boxing world.
Why that remains the case is anybody’s guess.
Perhaps it’s his fighting style, which is no-nonsense, dig deep and find a way to win, no matter whom against and how he gets the job done.
It worked on the night he captured his first major belt, outpointing then-unbeaten Jean Pascal in their December 2008 thriller for a vacant super middleweight bout.
The bout took place in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, but was captured by boxing fans on this side of the Atlantic via tape-delay in one of the last bouts to air on Versus’ Fight Night boxing series. It was a hell of way for Froch to make an impression on the global boxing scene, going all out in a legitimate Fight of the Year contender to emerge victorious.
Lending further legitimacy to the win is the success Pascal would enjoy in the aftermath, moving up to light heavyweight where he picked up an alphabet title and the division’s lineal championship. The Canada-based Haitian has since struggled to a draw and loss with middle-aged Bernard Hopkins.
Meanwhile, Froch is still standing, having survived a Murderer’s Row of challenges along the way and outlasting his last five opponents when all was said and done.
Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell have both dropped out of the Super Six tournament, though oddly enough following fights against Arthur Abraham, each time one bout after having lost to Froch.
Abraham himself is now officially out of the running after dropping a lopsided decision to Andre Ward earlier this month, six months after being humiliated in a fight that perhaps serves as Froch’s finest moment to date as a prizefighter.
Even in defeat, the scrappy Brit has found a way to outshine his opponent in the grand scheme of things.
It didn’t necessarily happen when he dropped a heartbreaker to Mikkel Kessler last April in his opponent’s native Denmark. On that night, Froch took to the road for their Stage Two matchup, battling hard but falling just short in one of the best fights of 2010, relinquishing his alphabet title in the process.
Yet he found himself back in line for the very same belt, when Kessler was forced to vacate and also drop out of the Super Six tournaments due to lingering injuries dating back to his loss to current tournament favorite Andre Ward one fight prior.
That Froch is still standing while Kessler is limited to pick-up bouts while on the comeback trail isn’t rewarding enough. When all is said and done in the tournament, revenge is what “The Cobra” has in mind for his first piece of post-Super Six business.
“It’s a big thing for me to have lost that fight against Mikkel Kessler because I’m serious about this business and that blemish on my record, I’d love to get that corrected before I retire. Someday after I hang them up I want to be able to say I lost that decision to Kessler but I won it back. I’ve avenged that defeat.”
Before that happens, he still has at least one tough challenge ahead of him, and Ward waiting in the wings should he emerge victorious this weekend.
While not overlooking what’s directly in front of him, Froch can’t help but to look down the road. The prizes at the finish line represent a two-year long series of one tough challenge after another, which is precisely why Froch was eager to enter the tournament in the first place.
“The final person to hold the Super Six Cup will have withstood the test of time. This tournament has given boxing fans and the press a lot to talk about and has given us a lot of fights that might not have happened. So it’s been a great thing. There has been some negative things but all that negativity is totally unnecessary. It’s been a fantastic tournament with some top-level fights and fights that would not have happened.”
Next Saturday’s championship fight wouldn’t be happening if Johnson wasn’t willing to drop down to super middleweight for the first time in a decade in order to join the Super Six tournament as an emergency sub.
The risk reaped major rewards, as everyone’s favorite underdog scored a knockout win over fellow late tourney entry Allan Green, advancing to the Super Six semifinals with one swing of the bat.
Some cited flaws in the tournament structure that Johnson was given a chance to vie for the final prize after just one fight, while the other three remaining contestants were forced to travel a far more arduous journey.
Froch himself has put in more miles than anyone else, with the possible exception of Abraham. One fight prior to the start of the tournament, the 33-year old traveled to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, where he rallied from behind to knock out Jermain Taylor.
The following 19 months saw Froch perform in England, Denmark and Finland, and now seven months later heads back to the states, as he and Johnson meet in New Jersey.
Ever the professional, Froch complains less about the miles put in and instead points to what he was able to do with the opportunity.
“I’ve had three fights but I made easy work of two of them. I made easy work of Andre Dirrell. I’ve done more damage shaving myself than what Andre Dirrell did. And against Arthur Abraham I made easy work of that. I mean the only fight that was hard work was the Mikkel Kessler fight and that was my own fault. I stood in front of him for four or five rounds and made a fight of it which I shouldn’t have done and there are reasons why I did that.
“I don’t think we should worry about how we got to this stage of the Super Six but the fact is we are here and in the Semifinals and I’m sure it means just as much to Glen as it means to me and it’s just as important to him. So we’ll forget about the past and worry about the here and now.”
Here and now, Carl Froch takes one more stab at punching his way towards worldwide respect.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .