By Phil Barnett
Carl Froch believes he is finally getting the credit he deserves after becoming a three-time world champion with his destruction of Lucian Bute in May.
The Nottingham veteran will make the first defence of his IBF super-middleweight title against American Yusaf Mack at the Capital FM Arena in his home city on November 17.
Froch, 35, destroyed unbeaten champion Bute in five rounds in May to snatch the title and continue a remarkable run of fights against elite opposition. Now he has been rewarded with a slightly less daunting night's work against Mack, who is ranked at number six by the IBF at light-heavyweight.
"I'd had some great fights and great wins prior to the Bute fight and I'd been getting a lot of recognition for the fights I'd been involved in," Froch told Press Association Sport.
"Since beating Bute, though, I think more people have realised now that I am a top-level fighter and I do deserve respect that I probably haven't got all through my career.
"But I've put that behind me now. I'm a big name and I feel like I've arrived. Even though I'm 35 I feel like I'm in my physical peak and I'm on the crest of a wave as a three-time world champion, defending my title, then having a rematch with Lucian Bute and then maybe getting Mikkel Kessler over here after that.
"There are some big fights out there for me. I'm with the best promotional company in the country - maybe the world.
"I'm looking forward to the next 18 months to two years of my career."
Philadelphian Mack, 32, has a record of 31-4-2 with 17 early wins. All four of his defeats were stoppages but he has only lost to decent opposition, with an unsuccessful challenge for Tavoris Cloud's IBF light-heavyweight title last June his most recent defeat.
Froch has vowed not to take Mack lightly.
"I know enough about him to know he's ranked in the top 10 in the world," he said. "He was ranked number four in the light-heavyweight last time I looked and is now sixth, and anyone who has that kind of ranking at light-heavyweight deserves a world title shot.
"Because he's fighting me, in my hometown, he's going to bring an extra 20% to what he usually brings. So I've got to be ready now for someone who is really seriously considering taking my belt off me.
"So I've got to take him seriously, do what I need to do in training to prepare my body for a long, gruelling fight."
Promoter Eddie Hearn said: "I'm delighted to have secured a home defence for Carl, no-one deserves it more.
"He will be fully focused on the fight with Mack, a much bigger man who will be coming to rip that world title from his grasp."
A number of possible opponents had been speculated upon and approached by Hearn, including South Africa's Thomas Oosthuizen.
Froch (29-2, 21KOs) will then have a contracted rematch with Bute next March, in the Romanian-Canadian's Montreal stronghold, before setting his sights on old foe Mikkel Kessler.
Phil Barnett covers boxing for Press Association Sport.