Like it or Not, Andre, Carl Froch Holds The Cards at 168

By Lyle Fitzsimmons

We can all agree on one thing these days. It’s pretty damned good to be Carl Froch.

Not only is the 35-year-old Englishman in the prime of his athletic career at a shredded 168 pounds, but he’s undeniably one of the best in the world at his chosen profession.

And lest we forget, he’s a father who goes home each night to both a new baby daughter and one of the world’s most intoxicatingly beautiful mothers, magazine cover girl Rachael Cordingley.

If you’re one of the three males who haven’t done it already, do yourself a favor and Google her.

You’ll thank me – and envy him – at the same time.

But for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just concentrate on items one and two.

As Froch proved again simply by showing up Saturday in London, he continues to defy all norms in terms of conditioning – shedding a T-shirt to reveal a ripped and ready physique prior to his 33rd pro fight.

While others his age battle discipline and soar through weight classes, Froch has been within 4¼ pounds of the super middle limit for every single one of his pro outings – and hasn’t weighed in north of the 168-pound threshold at all since toppling Belarusian Dmitry Adamovich in two rounds nine years ago.

The payoff for restraint at the training table is opportunity at the negotiating table.

With yet another pursuit and capture of yet another high-end super middle title-holder – this time good pal Mikkel Kessler and his cheesy WBA belt – Froch supplemented the best May-to-May stretch of any top-shelf commodity and opened a series of lucrative doors for the next 12 months, too.

Just a day shy of a year since demolishing previously unbeaten IBF claimant Lucian Bute in Nottingham, Froch avenged one of two career losses with a brutal and decisive 36 minutes against a game but outgunned Kessler, who’d edged him in Denmark back in 2010.

The 10, eight and seven rounds he won on the cards this time were right on the money – my 116-112 view matched Venezuelan judge Carlos Sucre – and did nothing to blunt momentum Froch generated with the beating of Bute last May 26 and a subsequent third-round KO of Yusaf Mack in November.

Whether you consider him a world champion or simply a belted pretender to the division’s legit throne-sitter, Froch is definitely a road through which the best fights at 168 must travel going forward.

And his zealous following – HBO’s Jim Lampley claimed the 19,000 fans in London were louder than 55,000 who turned out in Argentina for Sergio Martinez a month ago – gives him a leg up on determining the precise real estate for those fights as well.

The rematch win over Kessler ensures any plans for a rubber match in that series would have a UK bent to them, and AARP middleweight-turned-light heavy Bernard Hopkins has already gone public saying he’d take a flight across the Atlantic to play visiting villain to Froch’s hometown hero.

Not surprisingly, though, the match most want made coming out of the weekend involves another.

In this case, it’s the only other fighter to beat Froch: consensus champ Andre Ward.

In most circumstances, a fighter with both an unblemished record and a clear win over his assumed No. 1 suitor would hold all the cards when it came to dictating any second go-round.

He could choose the site. He could engineer the purse split.

Heck, he could even decide what hair gel Michael Buffer would dollop before doing the intros.

This, however, is certainly not such a normal circumstance.

While he was sublimely dominant upon meeting Froch two Decembers ago in New Jersey, Ward’s box-office street cred is nowhere near proportional to his in-ring acumen – meaning no one of sound mind is liable to pony up the cash needed to stage a second bout in a United States zip code.

In other words, in spite of the 2011 result, Ward needs Froch more than Froch needs Ward.

And, short of a domestic version of Vladimir Hryunov arriving with a last-minute vault full of hundreds, that reality leaves him with a pair of contrasting promotional options.

He can stand his kingpin ground, salve his bruised ego and steadfastly refuse to travel 5,000 miles to face a guy he’s already beaten – thereby leaving himself completely available to face the Stanyslav Kashtanovs, George Groveses and Edwin Rodriguezes of the WBA’s most recent top 10.

Or, he can wise up… and man up at the same time.

Instead of hiding behind a phantom fan base and claiming Froch’s Matchroom team must strive to make things make fiscal sense, Ward has the choice of rediscovering his Olympic pedigree and voyaging to any site necessary to defeat all world comers – with the literal added payoff of a career-best paycheck.

Lest we forget, Froch has fought outside his home country six times – including trips to face Ward, Kessler, Glen Johnson, Jermain Taylor and Arthur Abraham in title bouts – within the last four years.

Meanwhile, Ward has left U.S. airspace just twice, and only to fill the resume with pre-championship fodder like Roger Cantrell in his 14th fight in 2007 and Jerson Ravelo in his 16th seven months later.  

While an overseas adventure would admittedly put him within range of an iffy hometown decision, the upside to handling Froch on his own turf would come in the form of an elevated pound-for-pound ladder rung and presumably more backside bargaining power with the premium cable machinery.

Perhaps it’s not fair. And maybe he shouldn’t have to.

But the fact remains that while Ward has the skills to be a headliner, he remains better off sharing the bill with a less-talented but more popular artist – at least until his own stage presence inspires a similar level of frenzied rock-star devotion. Which at the moment, it undeniably does not.

Make no mistake, he’s already bad. But he sure ain’t nationwide.

And without dropping his me-first act to pursue a decisive win outside the stateside comfort zone, chances are pretty strong he never will be.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

No fights scheduled.   

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Last week’s picks: 2-0
2013 picks record: 30-19 (61.2 percent)
Overall picks record: 493-171 (74.2 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by KickAzz on 05-28-2013

[QUOTE=GRUSTLER;13427094]Froch loses any day of the week in a rematch against Ward, year round in any part of the world.[/QUOTE] then I guess there should be nothing holding Ward back from fighting Froch in his backyard right?

Comment by Ringlife on 05-28-2013

Carl holds the cards at 168. Wards calling Carl bluff Wards all in. Ward has no problem going to the lions den. Froch hating on Wards style like thats whats in. Watch Ward cash his chips right in taking Froch…

Comment by djtmal on 05-28-2013

hey man the way i see it, props to carl froch, for making himself twice as relevant since the defeat, to andre ward...equal props to carl froch, for going out and seeking avenge on all of his defeats, like a…

Comment by on 05-28-2013

Let me start off by saying that I have tremendous respect for both fighters; any fighter for that fact. Ward and Froch deserve the respect they deserve, and so far, Ward, has gotten none. If you are reading this Mr.…

Comment by Chuckguy on 05-28-2013

He difference is Ward fights for legacy Froch fights for money! So you toothless euro crack heads like earl dickey keep crying for the whambulance! Andre son of God calls the shots not Carl the venomless cobra. Deal with it…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (116)
Top Headlines Helenius Faces Basile on 12/17, Chisora Rematch Eyed For March Arthur Abraham Shelved For Three Weeks Due To Elbow Injury SHO's Espinoza: Mayweather Won't Even Joke About Ring Return Curtis Stevens-De La Rosa Added To PPV Portion of Kovalev-Ward Briggs Claims Haye Used His Name: He Backed Out of Our Deal Cuellar Vows To Take Mares Out - Targets Frampton, Santa Cruz Klitschko: No Retirement, Joshua Fight Will Be Biggest in Years Wilfredo Vazquez Jr: Juanma Repulses Me, I Will Knock Him Out! Jarrett Hurd vs. Jo Jo Dan Set, Jorge Cota is Now Out Badou Jack Thinks Ward-Kovalev is 50-50, Leans Ward With Pick De La Hoya Not Concerned With The Return of Richard Schaefer Andre Ward: Kovalev Won't Bully Me - He Tires, He Gets Frustrated Arum: Trump Thought of Andy Ruiz When He Said 'Bad Hombre' Tino Avila Wants To Dominate Ramirez, Fight For Title in 2017 Molina: Look at My Wilder Fight, I'll Raise Hell Against Joshua! David Haye: In 2017 I Will Be Heavyweight Champion - I Know It! De La Hoya To Critics: I Strongly Feel Canelo-Golovkin Will Happen Taras Shelestyuk Aims To Follow Gold Path of His Olympic Mates Brandon Rios a Free Agent, No Longer a Top Rank Fighter Katie Taylor Mulling Pro Move, Heading To Eddie Hearn? Fenech: Mundine-Green II is Bullsh*t Fight - Must Be Stopped! Nonito Donaire: I Want The Frampton vs. Santa Cruz Winner Next! Jack Doesn’t Take Much From DeGale’s Tough Fight with Medina Joshua's Fight Will Land on Showtime - Price, Jennings or Molina Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia Could Air on CBS in Prime Time George Foreman: Joshua Could Be Become an All-Time Great Andy Lee Wants Tough Fight, Gennady Golovkin Showdown Carl Frampton: I'll Beat Leo Santa Cruz Even More Convincingly! Jack: DeGale is Very Tough, I’ll Win and Be Best at 168 Arthur Abraham Out Of Martin Murray Rematch In Monte Carlo Craig Cunningham Heading To 154 After Shocker Over Ogogo Photos: Juanma Grinds Hard For Wilfredo Vazquez Grudge Fight Denis Shafikov vs. Richard Commey Set, Heading To Russia Broner vs. Granados on Feb. 11, Thurman vs. Garcia on March 4 Badou Jack vs. James DeGale Unification Set For January 14 Hosea Burton vs. Frank Buglioni Lands on Anthony Joshua Card Claressa Shields Pro Debut Finalized For Kovalev vs. Ward PPV Payano Eyes December Return in Quest For Second Title Reign Jason Sosa Embraces Smith Defense, Eyes Three Fights in 2017 Arum Apologizes To King For Post-Presidential Debate Vegas Spat

Latest Active Forum Threads