Over the past couple of years one British fighter – Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch – has stood out as he strived to test himself more than any other fighter from these shores. Forgot the hyperbole surrounding his flashier, more boastful and media aware colleagues, Amir Khan and David Haye; it’s the no-nonsense warrior from Nottingham who has trod the hardest path in boxing – you’ll find no broken toes or ‘hat men’ here! Bouts for Haye with the likes of Audley Harrison, or Khan with the likes of Paul McCloskey, pale in comparison alongside the unprecedented run of tough match-ups that Froch has faced against past, present and future world champions.
However, despite Carl’s monumental efforts since his title-winning slugfest with Jean Pascal in 2007, he is now 34, no longer a world champion and coming off the second defeat – and the first real decisive one – of his storied career. Talks with the undefeated IBF champion Lucian Bute have seemingly flat-lined as the Canadian based Romanian’s television paymasters insist he instead face Carl’s conqueror, Andre Ward. The prospect of a rematch with the aforementioned, sublimely gifted, American Super Six champion is highly unlikely for the foreseeable future, given the outcome of the first fight. Therefore the question that has to be asked is; where does Carl Froch go next?
Froch’s promoter, Matchroom’s new ‘face of boxing’ Eddie Hearn, has gone on record (well, Twitter…) to categorically state that Carl will not move up to light heavyweight and face Nathan Cleverly, one of Britain’s two reigning world champions (a title I use lightly given the fact that the Welshman won a vacant belt and has never actually fought a genuine world level fighter). Despite my reservations about Cleverly’s standing as a world champion, I do believe that he is a big talent, an exciting fighter to watch and in my opinion a bout against Froch would provide both fireworks and an indication of the respective levels of both men. It’s a fight I’d love to see and I am slightly puzzled by Hearn and Froch’s reluctance to take it.
The reasons behind my bemusement at Hearn’s fairly hard stance on Carl not moving up to fight Cleverly are numerous. Firstly the fight would make both men a lot of money and cause a massive amount of interest for British boxing. Secondly the fight would provide Froch with a great opportunity to become a two weight world champion (it’s certainly a winnable fight for him) and get one over on his nemesis Joe Calzaghe (Joe never actually won one of the ‘big four’ belts at light heavy, although he did annex the Ring belt). Thirdly, although Froch has never indicated a struggle to make super middleweight, he was previously keen to step up and face Calzaghe – I’m sure he’d even do so now if Joe would accommodate him – and has also talked about a Pascal rematch, so why not against Cleverly? Finally, with Bute and Ward both seemingly out of the picture, who else is there?
As Carl and Mr Hearn have insisted against him moving to light heavy and the top two fighters at super middle will most likely face each other, there are only a few options left open for Froch – at least for his next couple of bouts. Rematches with either Mikkel Kessler or Andre Dirrell are possibilities and a fight with Kessler would be sure to be entertaining, although the Dane is a little past his peak. A fight with Robert Stieglitz, the WBO champion who Kessler is soon to face, might be an option for later in the year if the German comes through – although I can’t see Carl volunteering to face a German champion in Germany, for reasons that I don’t need to spell out. Karoly Balzsay, another German based fighter, holds the ‘regular’ WBA belt – whatever that means – and doesn’t have a fight lined up, so maybe Froch could pick up another title there (although perhaps a slightly cheap one).
What is clear to me is that Carl Froch could still compete and beat most of the fighters left in the super middleweight division, even at the age of 34; what is equally clear is that if you remove Ward and Bute from the equation then there are not a great deal of exciting match ups to be made (the likes of DeGale and Groves are still too raw for an animal like Froch). At light heavyweight there are fights to be made; Cleverly, Hopkins, Dawson, Pascal, Cloud et al.
Throughout his career Carl Froch has continuously ‘stepped up’ to face the best fighters on the planet – a feat he must be admired for. Now I’d love to see him step up – this time in weight – and make the final flickering lights of his fabulous fighting career shine brighter than Eddie Hearn’s tan!
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