By Terence Dooley
Nottingham’s Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch is currently on the toughest run of top-level fights since James Toney faced off against Merqui Soas, Michael Nunn, Reggie Johnson and Mike McCallum in 1991.
‘Light’s Out’, however, had the luxury of facing Alberto Gomez, in a non-title fight, and Francesco Dell'Aquila during his period. Froch has taken on Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and now Glen Johnson during his WBC super-middleweight title run; his only blemish a decision loss to Kessler in Denmark last spring.
Carl moves into his Super Six semi-final showdown with Johnson with thoughts of his legacy at the forefront of his boxing brain. Froch meets Johnson at Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk venue on June 4th; the 33-year-old believes that he is a few Ws away from cementing his name amongst British boxing’s greats.
“I feel excellent. I am fighting now for my legacy and to be put up there with some of those great names for these consecutive fights is a fantastic recognition and a great achievement,” said Froch when speaking about his physical and mental condition going into the Johnson defence.
“Glen Johnson has been in there with the best of them at the top level. Although he hasn’t always got the best results he did knock out Roy Jones Junior, which looks great on paper. His style isn’t one that dominates at world level so everyone expects me to go in there and do a job on Johnson, not to take the fight lightly or take my eye off the ball.”
Johnson’s last stoppage defeat came in an IBF middleweight challenge to Bernard Hopkins in 1997, the Jamaica-born, US-based boxer has since campaigned at light-heavy, where he won the linear title by defeating Antonio Tarver in 2004. Froch, though, does not believe that size will be a factor come the night.
“Possibly, yeah, but he’s got to make the weight because he was a big light-heavyweight,” said Froch as he assessed Glen’s size advantage. “If he is training to focus on the weight then he could tire down the stretch. Don’t forget, he’s forty-two, as old as my trainer and I know [coach] Robert [McCracken] wouldn’t want to still be boxing now. Glen chooses to do it, Hopkins is 46 so Glen probably feels he’s a young 42-year-old.”
Andre Ward dominated Abraham en route to a unanimous point’s win at the Home Depot Centre, California on Saturday night. Froch has always felt that himself and ‘Son Of God’ would contest the inaugural Super Six winner’s medal.
Saying, “I have seen the fight with Ward and Abraham and I always felt it would be a Ward-Froch final and it looks like it is panning out that way. I need to get my foot over the line with Johnson and that is how it will be.”
Complacency is always a factor when going into a fight as the betting favourite. Froch feels that his own ring intelligence prevents thoughts of Ward creeping into his mind ahead of the must win encounter with Johnson.
“That could be a danger if I wasn’t a consummate professional,” insisted Froch, dismissing the idea of hubris. “I’d never take Johnson lightly, that would be stupid, and have done my running, training and sparring for Johnson as though he’s a younger, fresh Johnson defending his title. There is no danger of me getting in there and being complacent at all.
“I am working on boxing, moving, putting on a clinical boxing show just like I did against Arthur Abraham. I’ve got some good sparring lined up for America and will put on a boxing class against an old veteran. Glen has been given a great opportunity to fight in a prestigious tournament and for the best title, the WBC belt. You know he’s going to come at me, meaning business and swinging away. We’ve been working on retaining the title in style and showing why everyone is now talking about me.”
Ward has been jokingly referred to as ‘Son Of Showtime’ due to the fact that his fights have taken place in and around his Oakland stomping ground. Showtime would presumably love to see their glittering tournament taken by the next American boxing star. Froch feels that his run has been tougher than Ward’s yet places this down to circumstance.
“There is the argument that it has been in his favour because he’s not had to leave California and all his fights have taken place in that state. His last one wasn’t in his hometown and the officiating was above board,” he opined.
“But he hasn’t had to travel away, get on a airplane three times like I have so maybe we should have had something in the contract saying the champion gets the option to fight at home. That hasn’t happened so no point thinking about it.
“I’d rather have had Ward’s run because even though he boxed Kessler, Mikkel had been out for ten months before that and only had a fight with Gusmyr Perdomo to tick over (going into the fight with Ward). Kessler had to travel to Ward’s backyard to defend his belt and Ward got away with murder with the head and that. In terms of being taken out of his comfort zone, Ward hasn’t had that but it is my job to take him out of his comfort zone in our fight, which won’t be in California, no chance.”
The 27-1 (20) boxer has recently inked a five-fight deal with Matchroom; he believes that Eddie and Barry Hearn will bring the recognition and home soil super fight that he deserves. Citing the fact that Sky TV will televise the Johnson fight live as crucial to his public profile.
“It is very upsetting that I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved and not had the recognition but I’m putting that behind me know I’m with Eddie and moving forward. I’m back on Sky, in some big fights and want to get the recognition that I deserve,” he enthused.
“Yes, that would be fantastic”, said Froch as talked turned to a possible fight at Nottingham Forest FC’s football ground, “it is something Eddie can pull off and it would be great.”
Post-Super Six, Froch has his eyes on a rematch with Kessler, a return with light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal or even a crack at Joe Calzaghe should the Welsh legend decide to dust of his gloves.
“The pick of them for me is the Kessler fight because I’ve had a decision go against me and want to put that right. The biggest fight is the Pascal fight up at light-heavyweight. That is a big fight. The Calzaghe fight is a dream fight, one for the fans who want to see it. I know he’s been retired and out the gym but he’s talking about how much money he’d take for it so he must be thinking about it,” says Froch.
Pascal and Froch have remained on speaking terms since their December 2008 vacant WBC 168lb title fight. This mutual respect and friendly rivalry could spur a 175lb title crack for Froch once he comes through the Super Six.
“We’ve got a little verbal thing going on where he wants to get the blemish from his record and I want to win his belt. That fight could be very easily made but he’s got a tough fight against Hopkins and needs to win that – I’m sure he will,” he predicted.
Talk of Ward once again prompted Froch to point out that his mind is fully focused on Johnson, his 51-14-2 (35) challenger knows that this could be his last title chance and will be firing come the first bell. Froch therefore is not prepared to turn his mind to Oakland’s finest just yet.
“Ward put in a great performance, doing what he had to do to win (against Abraham), but I’m not looking too far ahead to the final. I’m working on what Glen brings to the table. He’ll be looking for me, I won’t have to look for him, and it will be like hitting an old oak tree because he’s teak tough. He will be there for twelve rounds if necessary.
“There are big fights, they show what I’m about and that I’ll go in with anybody. I’m going to be closing my career on an all time high by working with Matchroom for the time left in my career.”
Robert McCracken was an interested spectator during Johnson’s sole stoppage loss. Rob was a middleweight contender in 1997; he took in Hopkin’s dominant display over Johnson as a rival, now he has had cause to revisit the footage of the fight as a trainer.
“Believe it or not, I was at the Johnson and Hopkins fight. I sat at ringside and it was an accumulation of punches that stopped Johnson. You have to show the upmost respect for him and perform on the night. Carl will do that to make it another great fight,” promised the former WBC world middleweight title challenger.
“Carl had too much of a punch up against Kessler but showed that he is a tremendous boxer against Abraham and has to show that again to avoid getting draw into a punch up with Johnson. Carl will win, he’ll have to box well but will emerge victorious.”
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