By Keith Idec
Carl Froch knows a thing or two about what it takes to entertain a stadium full of fight fans in London.
The retired super middleweight champion hopes Anthony Joshua does just that Saturday night. Froch, an analyst for Sky Sports’ boxing coverage, wrote in a column for the network’s website Wednesday that the huge heavyweight champion must get back to entertaining fickle fight fans who want more from him after he went the distance for the first time as a pro in his last fight.
“I think we all want the same thing at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night: we want to see Anthony Joshua show us he has still got that fighting spirit and still wants to entertain us all,” Froch wrote. “There is no one better in boxing, never mind the heavyweight division, when it comes to doing just that.”
Froch recognizes that Alexander Povetkin’s experience and power make him a dangerous opponent for Joshua in their 12-round fight. He still wants to see an aggressive Joshua go after the Russian contender, who has lost only to Wladimir Klitschko.
“I am like anyone else,” Froch wrote. “I want to see Josh get involved against Alexander Povetkin. And I mean properly involved. I want to see him back at his best. He’s got that fighting spirit that we saw when he beat Wladimir Klitschko. When he got hit, he stood there, took it, put combinations together and hit him back. He wanted to fight.”
Joshua’s 11th-round stoppage of Klitschko amounted to one of the most unforgettable fights in heavyweight history. The 6-feet-6, 250-pound Joshua dropped the 6-feet-6, 245-pound Klitschko in the fifth round, survived a sixth-round knockdown and dropped Klitschko twice more during the 11th round.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist wasn’t overly impressive in his following fight, a 10th-round, technical-knockout victory over Cameroon’s Carlos Takam (35-5-1, 27 KOs) on October 28 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Then Joshua was much more tactical in defeating New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (24-2, 18 KOs) by unanimous decision in their title unification fight March 31 at Principality Stadium.
“Watching Joshua is usually exciting, no matter who he’s in with,” Froch wrote. “I really hope we are going to see that again. I hope he just gets in there against Povetkin and gets back to what we all love. Povetkin isn’t bad at all and he does come in from angles, rather than walk straight in, so Joshua will get caught. Then I want to see him fight back, let those punches go again, and show us he’s still got it that.
“We all know how fickle fight fans can be and we all know what they want to see. Yes, they want to see him win and keep hold of those belts, but they want to see him turn it on. Andre Ward was the best in the world, but the one thing he never got was the simple fact that you have to entertain people. It is an entertainment business we’re all in now.”
Froch figures now is the perfect time, too, for Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) to remind people why he is the No. 1 heavyweight in the sport. The 28-year-old superstar is a 10-1 favorite over the 39-year-old Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) and should perform accordingly.
“With everyone talking about Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury,” Froch wrote, “well this is exactly the right time for him to show them he is still the main man, the one world champion who everybody wants to fight and wants to watch.
“Povetkin is a genuine threat and although he does come in from angles, rather than straight forward, I hope Josh and him meet in the middle and just go for it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.