Sunday, April 26, 2009

Carl Froch And The Fun At 168

By Lee Payton

Photos © Justin McKie

Carl Froch, a hard-nosed boxer/puncher from Great Britain, established himself not only as one of the very best super middleweights in the world, but also as one of boxing's most exciting fighters, after getting up off the deck to score a thrilling 12th round knockout of former middleweight Champion, Jermain Taylor.

At the very least, it shouldn't be too hard for Froch to find a big time British TV deal for his next fight. Whether people like his brashness or not, he's one of the main players at 168 lbs, where there is certainly no shortage of interesting opponents. For my money, it's the best division in boxing top to bottom, in terms of potential fireworks.

While Froch was willing to come to America to take on the former middleweight Champion, you have to expect more support from fans back home after last night's display of guts. A large British fan base provides him with significant bargaining leverage, as well as incentive for opponents to sign the dotted line, in order to get the big bucks.

If his style doesn't guarantee that Carl Froch will never be in a bad fight, his weight class seals the deal. Sure, he's not the most polished pug in the world, but he doesn't make it easy for anyone. So how would he fair against the rest of the significant players?

Though he hasn't fought anyone of note in awhile because of some nasty managerial issues, Mikkel Kessler is still seen by many as the cream of the crop, based on past work, which includes a shutout of Andrade and a spirited effort (with a busted right mitt) against then champion, Joe Calzaghe.

Kessler is class, no doubt, but not even he is impervious to The Cobra's venom. While I would personally favour the Dane to win a decision, it wouldn't be the kind of outclassing that one might suspect given Froch's penchant for eating clean bombs with hands held low.

I think Kessler is most comfortable shooting short 1-2's at a certain range, preferably with an oncoming target, and is considerably less potent on the far outside and deep inside. Froch has shown the ability to close the distance rather quickly with jerky movements. He could be some trouble going in and out with his late energy. He'd make Kessler earn it.

Lucien Bute is a difficult style match-up for anyone. Tall, quick, disciplined southpaws who can move and counter usually are. While he seems to have all the tools to get the job done rather easily, can he take one of those clean rights hands on the button? And how will he react when Froch is still there, trying to take his head off in the last quarter of the fight?

The green belt sanctioning body says that youngsters Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell, both 18-0, deserve a shot in the very near future. Both are very talented, and carry some impressive physical gifts into the ring, but in my opinion, neither is ready for the type of pain and suffering they'd need to endure in order to win. Froch would hit them in places they've never been touched before and force them to answer questions they're probably not prepared for. Not yet.

How brutal would fights with Librado Andrade or Sakio Bika be? Even the most hard edged fight fan would have to shield his eyes.

Maybe the most attractive option out there at the moment is Allan Green, who showed an interest during his post-fight interview. Now that's a can't-miss brawl! I've never been all that high on Green, but his offense is nasty, and I believe what I have heard about his physical issues in the past. With the way these guys hit and get hit, it's a fight that could feature many sudden (and violent) changes of fortune.

And of course there's always the rematch with Taylor, which is something of a natural considering the money involved, the patchy scoring and the unforgettable finish.

Whatever happens next, you won't wanna miss it.

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