By Lem Satterfield
As England's WBC super middleweight king Carl Froch see it, he still has not received the respect that he so richly deserves.
In December of 2008, Froch (27-1, 20 knockouts) became the first man to defeat Canada's Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs), doing so by winning a clash of unbeatens for the WBC's vacant super middle belt.
Froch whipped Pascal 116-112, 117-111, and, 118-110, this, long before Pascal had battled to last December's disputed, majority draw with Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) in defense of Pascal's WBC light heavyweight belt, and before Pascal lost his belt to the 46-year-old Hopkins by unanimous decision on May 21.
Froch made his first defense of that belt with an April, 2009, 12th-round stoppage of Jermain Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs), who already had scored a split-decision and a unanimous decision, respectively, over Hopkins in February and July of 2005 -- ending Hopkins' record run of 20-consecutive defenses with his initial triumph.
In October of 2009, Froch earned a split-decision victory over previously unbeaten southpaw, Andre Dirrell (20-1, 13 KOs), of Flint, Mich., who rebounded with a March, 2010 lopsided, 11th-round disqualification victory over Germany's previously unbeaten, former middleweight champ Arthur Abraham (32-3, 26 KOs).
In November, Froch easily out-boxed Abraham to regain the WBC belt he had lost by close but unanimous decision to Denmark's former WBA king Mikkel Kessler in April of 2010.
Froch defeated Abraham, 120-109, for a shutout on two judges' cards, with the other judge awarding one round to Abraham by the score of 119-109.
Nicknamed "The Cobra," the 33-year-old Froch next faces 42-year-old Jamaican-born, former light heavyweight world champion, Glen Johnson (51-14-2, 35 KOs), of Miami, in the semifinals of Showtime's Super Six World Super Middleweight Boxing Classic on June 4 in Atlantic City.
Coming off of November's eighth-round knockout of Allan Green (29-3, 20 KOs) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was stopped for the first time in his career, Johnson has rejuvenated his career following respective performances against Yusaf Mack of Philadelphia in February of 2010, unbeaten, IBF light heavyweight king Tavoris Cloud of Miami in September, and, then, Green.
Johnson scored three, sixth-round knockdowns against Mack during an IBF title eliminator, sixth-round knockout, lost a close, but, unanimous decision to Cloud, and then, was named to replace Kessler in the Super Six tournament when Kessler pulled out of the event due to an eye injury.
Johnson, who was required to drop weight for Green, was unbeaten at 32-0 in July 1997, when he was knocked out for the only time in his career by Bernard Hopkins in the 11th round. Johnson was named the 2004 Fighter of the Year after a decision over Clinton Woods, the knockout over Roy Jones, and a split decision over Antonio Tarver.
In the other semifinal on May 14, WBA titlist Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) easily defended his crown by unanimous decision over Abraham on will defend his crown against Abraham.
For this Q&A, BoxingScene.com caught up to Froch in Las Vegas on May 7 at the MGM Grand, the day that eight-division king, Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) successfully defended his WBO welterweight belt by unanimous decision over five-time titlist Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs) at the same venue.
BoxingScene.com: Do you believe that this fight with Glen Johnson has the potential for the similar Fight-of-the-Year caliber of excitement as your battles with Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor or Mikkel Kessler?
Carl Froch: After the way that I dealt with Arthur Abraham, I think that I'm going to choose to box. But, obviously, you sometimes get drawn into a fight that you don't necessarily want to be involved in. I've just actually met Glen Johnson for the first time in my life, just now. I actually shook his hand when he came in here, and he's not as tall as I thought that he was.
For some reason, being a former light heavyweight, I thought that he would be 6-foot-1, but he's a little bit shorter than me. That should allow me to use my long reach, my boxing ability and my range. I can use that against people who are shorter than me, no matter what level they're at, and whether I'm sparring them or whether they're top amateurs.
If I'm going to have a height and reach advantage on them, like I did against Abraham, I can always seem to dominate from a good range and I find that to be quite easy. I'm not saying that it's going to be an easy fight, because he's very tough and strong and he's been in with the best of them. But plan 'A,' and tactic 'A' is going to be to box the way that I did against Abraham.
But if I need to stand in there and fight with Glen Johnson, if he wants that, then I can do that for 10 to 20 seconds of a round. I will do that. But ideally, I will be boxing and moving and putting on a masterful classic plan of hitting and not getting hit. That's the game plan.
BoxingScene.com: How does Glen Johnson stack up to the Arthur Abrahams, the Jermain Taylors, the Mikkell Kesslers and the Jean Pascals on your record?
CF: You've got to respect somebody who has had as many fights as Glen Johnson has had against the caliber of opposition that Glen Johnson has faced. I mean, he's experienced and he's got ring craft and toughness and durability. You've got to realize, though, that he's at the end of his career. He's 42.
I mean, if you look at Bernard Hopkins, he's 46, and he's given Jean Pascal one helluva fight. So age isn't everything. But Glen Johnson is not 32 and he's not 33 like myself. I've got youth and enthusiasm, and the wear and tear on the joints and the bones as well, it makes a difference. I think that it will make a difference in this fight.
BoxingScene.com: If you are not fortunate enough to dominate Glen Johnson, would you be disappointed?
CF: No. I think that I will be able to dominate him. All that I need is mentally to do what I need to do to him is to have fitness, which is what I've got. As long as I can do what I did against Arthur Abraham for 12 rounds, then the only criteria in this fight for me is to be able to say that I maintained a game plan for 12 rounds.
I don't need to get drawn into a fight and to start getting hit round the head and round the body or with that overhand right or that shot to the back of the head or the ear. I'm at 167 pounds four weeks before the fight. There's not an ounce of fat on me and I'm doing 12 rounds of sparring and I'm eating and I'm healthy and I'm strong.
So, I wouldn't be disappointed if I don't dominate. But if I need to stand there and take a few shots in order to hit him with a couple of hooks and a couple of body shots, then I will do that.
I don't mind mixing it up. You've seen me mix it up with Jean Pascal and you've seen me mix it up against Jermain Taylor. I mixed it up with Mikkel Kessler as well, I think.
But for the sake of my longevity, I'd like to keep him at a distance and dominate him from range. But I would not be disappointed if a guy like Glen Johnson closes you down and draws you in.
I'll be ready for a fight. In fact, I'm going to expect that for a couple of rounds, especially later on.
BoxingScene.com: Were you tempted to engage Arthur Abraham more?
CF: I definitely resisted that against Arthur Abraham. From rounds seven, eight and nine on, I was ready to stay there when I had him in the corner or on the ropes for another four or five seconds or to throw another five or six shots. But you risk getting caught with something silly.
So I listened to my trainer every second of every round, and we executed the game plan perfectly. And that's what we'll be doing against Glen Johnson. This tournament gave me an opportunity to show what I'm made of.
The difficulty of this tournament has been shown by Andre Dirrell retiring, Jermain Taylor retiring and Mikkel Kessler retiring. To me, the only real legitimate retirement there was Jermain Taylor, because he was coming toward the end of his career when I fought him.
But he fought an unknown kid from England, and Jermain was there to win it, and he gave a very good account of himself. But the beating that gave him in round 12 finished him off. I took the last out of him. So Taylor, he's gone.
And the Super Six final will be two people who were in the original Super Six lineup, and that's what's important. This is providing that I do the job on Johnson, which I know that I will do, and Andre Ward winning. That's two of the original in the Super Six lineup.
BoxingScene.com: Do you believe that you have not received your due credit as a fighter?
CF: As far as the Americans were concerned, you've got this skinny white kid from England who no one knew he was, and I just had to come over here and prove myself like I did when I beat Jermain Taylor. So when I lift that championship trophy over my head, it will be the end of what has been a massive success for me.