Boxing


Carl Froch: Heart of a Champion

frochBy Vikram Sangar: If American boxing fans didn't know his name before Saturday night, chances are they'll know him now.

Carl Froch's stunning 12th round knockout victory over Jermain Taylor will live long in the memory bank as one of the most sensational comeback victories ever by a British Fighter.

Froch (24-0, 19KO's) making his first ever defence of his WBC Super-Middleweight title, was 4 rounds behind on two judges scorecards going into the twelfth and final round.

His performance up to this point had been largely lethargic and not at all like the 'usual' Carl Froch British fans have grown to love. From the opening bell the man known as "The Cobra" looked very nervous, his arms and legs stiff with a defense that at times seemed almost non-existant.. Taylor pressed the early action and made Froch pay heavily in Round 3 with a thunderous overhand-right to the temple that floored the champion for the first time in his career.

Nightmares of American performances past from the likes of Clinton Woods, Gary Lockett and even Ricky Hatton suddenly came rushing back to this scribe's mind - just what do the American's think of our so-called British champions? Every fighter we send across the pond wants to conquer America and become a superstar but most usually end up returning over-hyped and hopelessly outclassed.

For long periods of the fight, it seemed like Carl would be another unfortunate name on that list. He fought with a distinct lack of urgency, often reluctant to use his natural physical advantages and was getting caught time and time again by Taylor's lightning right-hand.

Something had to change and thankfully for The Cobra, that change may have come at the end of Round 3. Ruffled but undaunted, Froch returned to his corner after the knockdown with his pride heavily bruised and the stark realisation that he was now well and truly in for the fight of his life.

With his head clearing and on the advice of his corner, Froch began to assert his jab during the middle rounds and using his boxing skills and trying to keep Taylor at range. Boxing, not brawling was the key - a gameplan that ironically worked wonders for Froch's long time foe Joe Calzaghe after his own poor starts against Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr.

Froch's inexperience at this level though did show through much of the fight however as Taylor seemed to catch the judges' eye with a flurry of shots for the last 10-15 seconds of many close rounds.

The much-maligned challenger was dubbed "Bad Predictions" by Froch in the lead-up to the fight but was anything but "bad" in the first 8 rounds of the fight. His speed and powerful counter-punching was a telling factor in the judges scores leading up to Round 12. But with both men heavily tiring, it was just a case of whether his suspect stamina could hold up for three final minutes and the ever dawning reality of becoming World Champion once again.

Ironically though, the man who in defeat shot Kelly Pavlik to super-stardom may have just done the same for The Cobra's career.

Froch floored Taylor in the twelfth round with 3 hammering right-hand's. Arguably the fight could have been stopped there and then as Taylor somehow stumbled back to his feet at what seemed to be a slow count of nine. Froch sensed the end was near and continued his pressurised and punishing assault, biding his time and picking some big power shots to which Taylor had no answer.

The fight was rightly stopped with just 14 seconds remaining of the fight - Froch sensationally retained his World Title through sheer guts, determination and heart. Taylor had it taken away in one of the most brutal and cruel ways possible. A stunning end to a hugely absorbing fight.

Post-match I felt a little offended with Showtime's questioning to referee Michael Ortega. The fight was rightly stopped as as Jermain was in no position to defend himself - a decision that was not argued by Taylor himself. Yet what seemed to matter to Showtime was the timing of the stoppage to their new marquee fighter rather than the fighter's safety itself.

In addition, if this line of questioning to referees is acceptable - why wasn't Joe Cortez called to task over his refeering of Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather? (yes I'm still bitter!) Or how about Marlon Wright in THAT fight between Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade? I'm sure there's plenty more we can all pick...

But lets take nothing away from what was a sensational American debut for Carl Froch. The future for him looks extremely bright with the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Kelly Pavlik, Felix Sturm and the aforementioned Mr Bute all touted as possible future opponents.

I'm sure every one of them will fancy their chances at defeating the unbeaten Nottingham-born fighter but the will-to-win and the heart of a champion can take you a long way.

Just ask Jermain Taylor...

Article posted on 27.04.2009



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