Boxing


Carl Froch: A Man Without Fear

Carl Frochby John Wight: Carl Froch will put it all on the line again tonight in Atlantic City when he steps through the ropes to face undefeated current World Boxing Association (WBA) super middleweight and former Olympic champion Andre Ward in the final of the Super Six World Classic super middleweight tournament. Froch, who is the current WBA champion, comes to the fight the bookies' underdog and with the added pressure of reversing the recent fortunes of British boxing on the world stage after a series of high profile defeats in recent weeks, culminating in Amir Khan's loss to Lamont Peterson last week in Washington DC.

But Froch is a man who plows his own furrow and for whom putting it all on the line is the very essence of who he is. For make no mistake here we have a throwback in the very real sense of the word, a man with a fighter's heart and pride, whose priority since turning professional at the age of 25 has never been the size of his bank balance but the size of the challenge in front of him as he strives for genuine and undisputed greatness. The grit and integrity of an athlete who is willing to face whoever wherever, whether in Helsinki in the dead of winter or Atlantic City under the glare of the spotlight, stands at odds in a sport and in an age where so-called champions balk at the very idea of performing outside their comfort zone.

But Carl Froch stands on a different plane to the majority of boxing's elite fighters. He's had to work for any recognition he's achieved, recognition that remains criminally negligent measured by his achievements, and he's had to face the very best in his division in fight after fight. Not for him the luxury of padding out his career with journeymen or opponents just looking for a last payday before heading for the door marked retirement. Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Mikkel Kessler, Andre Dirrell, Glen Johnson Arthur Abraham, the names trip off the tongue as a who's who of the best in the sport.

Isn't it an indictment of the sports money men and television executives that a fighter of the unvarnished and inarguable pedigree of Carl Froch should still be able to walk any street in any country where boxing retains a presence as a mass spectator sport and do so unrecognized, while comparative nonentities who aren't fit to lace his gloves can't? When will we see honor and integrity returned to boxing, when champions are forged out of what they do in the ring rather than what their promoters do outside?

Can any serious fan of boxing imagine Carl Froch bemoaning a broken toe as the reason for losing a championship fight? Could they see him going to the length of taking off standing up on a table at a post-fight press conference to prove his point by exposing the toe to the world? Could they ever see him bringing an official complaint against a referee for daring to penalize him during a championship fight for continually holding after he'd been warned umpteen times?

To ask these questions is to answer them.

Carl Froch has proved that he is cut from a different cloth to the current clutch of British fighters who are currently plying their trade at the top level. Mentally, physically, spiritually, he comes to fight with the demeanor and attitude of someone who would rather die than suffer dishonor. And while there will be some who will no doubt attribute the aforementioned assertion as mere hyperbole, something they've heard a thousand times approaching fight night, the facts do not lie. Froch is a warrior with a warrior's heart beating inside his chest.

Style-wise he seems to invite disaster, standing as he does with his left hand dangling at his side and minimal head movement, relying on the kind of punch resistance that leaves any opponent in no doubt that whatever happens they are guaranteed a long and a hard night's graft. But he can box as well as fight, as he proved emphatically against Arthur Abraham, and against Ward he will have to do both at various times if he's to upset the odds and come away with the both belts around his waist.

This he can do, make no mistake, which is why as soon as I finish this sentence I'm off the bookies.

Article posted on 17.12.2011



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