By Jake Donovan
There is next to nothing Carl Froch can say about either of his two career losses, though there’s nothing preventing him from having a final say on attempting to reverse both setbacks.
Step one comes this weekend, when the resurgent Brit welcomes to his backyard prior conqueror Mikkel Kessler. The bout – which airs live on HBO from London, England (Saturday, 6:00PM ET) is shaping up to be one of the biggest of 2013, a remarkable statement considering that the winner will still remain a distant second in the super middleweight sweepstakes.
That’s all just a part of how far Froch has come in the wake of his pair of defeats.
The three-time alphabet titlist served as the poster boy for everything that was to be gained from the Super Six super middleweight round robin tournament. His road to the Super Six finals saw five fights take place in four separate countries, only one of which was held in the United Kingdom. Among the lot was a competitive but clear points loss to Kessler, on the road in Herning, Denmark.
Froch (30-2, 22KO) has waited for what feels like forever at a shot to even the score. That moment finally arrives on Saturday, and he gets home field advantage to boot. A sold out crowd of 18,000 awaits the visiting Kessler, as does the red hot Froch, who – even in riding a modest two-fight win streak – feels as if he is at the highest point in his career as he enjoys a third straight home game.
In a rivalry that many feel is on an even keel, hometown advantage could provide the final piece of the puzzle for Froch.
“I think being at home or being away from home affects you,” Froch admits, perhaps speaking to past experiences as both of his losses have come on the road. “If you’re away from home it can affect you a little bit negatively. And being at home affects you in a positive way because you’re rewarded for the work you do.
“So, I think the home crowd advantage in boxing is an advantage. And I’m going to relish in that and take that, you know, with a positive on the night, because when I’m letting my shots go and landing, and backing him up, the crowd will be erupting and going crazy as opposed to hearing a pin drop.”
Froch has won fights in both settings in back-to-back fights during his title win and first defense. His first run at a championship came at home, when he outpointed Jean Pascal to claim a vacant super middleweight belt. Pascal has since become a huge enough star in Canada to where he no longer has to leave home for a major fight.
The same was not always the case for Froch, who really didn’t develop a significant following until his role in the Super Six tournament. His first fight took place at home, drawing his largest crowd at the time as a capacity crowd of 7,000 saw the house favorite eke out an unpopular decision over the then-unbeaten American.
The very next fight was in his opponent’s home country, marking Froch’s first trip to Denmark and really anywhere outside of United Kingdom and the U.S. The 12 rounds of action was hailed by many as the best fight within the Super Six tournament and possibly the best ever bout to have taken place on Danish soil.
A competitive fight all the way, Kessler pulled ahead to take a decision that saw both fighters suffer considerable damage. Froch suffered a busted eardrum, but also insisted afterward that the outcome would have been different had the fight taken place at home.
He now has a chance to put something behind those words, though his stance has changed a bit. While he clearly believes in the concept of a hometown edge, there is also the acknowledgement of a far more polished version of Carl Froch than the one who fought that April ’10 night in Denmark.
“I think give it two or three rounds – touchy feely if you like, but I’m going to be sending in big shots like against Bute early on, so it just depends on how he responds,” Froch insists of how he plans to start this time around, as opposed to coming out a bit tentative in their first fight.
“I know he likes to come out and take us into the ring and try and back his opponents up,” Froch continues. “And that’s what he did to me in the first fight because I was flat footed and I was tired, I was letting him throwing the right hand to the body. But this year is going to be totally different. It’s going to be none of that this time. He’s going to be shocked; people are going to be shocked.”
A lot has changed in those three years, namely Froch scoring big wins at home and on the road, as well as offering a competitive challenge – albeit in a losing effort – to the very best super middleweight on the planet.
The career-changing – and defining – moment was clearly last year’s knockout over Lucian Bute. All it took was a knockout defeat over the previously unbeaten Bute to convince people that losses to Kessler and Andre Ward were a thing of the past.
There aren’t many who claim he will be competitive enough to conquer Ward anytime soon (though certainly not out of the question); yet, despite the pass loss to Kessler, most experts envision a similar forecast, one that has Froch’s arm raised in victory
But as Froch has learned in the past, fights aren’t won and lost on paper but in the ring. No matter how many people are behind him or what is believed to be at stake with a win (a possible rematch with Ward), it’s all business for the no-nonsense pugilist who continues to thrive in the twilight.
“My mindset’s going to be the same, my preparation’s going to be the same, it’s just – it’s going to help on the night being at home I think – especially in front of 18,000,” Froch insists. “I mean I don’t know what that’s going to feel like because I’ve never boxed in front of such a big crowd. I’m looking forward to it.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox