Best I Faced: Carl Froch
Note: This edition of “Best I Faced” originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of THE RING Magazine, not long after Froch knocked out George Groves in their rematch.)
If you’re only as good as your last fight, then Britain’s Carl Froch is as good as ever.
On May 31, 2014, a U.K. post-World War II record of 80,000 fans packed Wembley Stadium in London to witness Froch shorten his strokes, up his game and produce a spectacular one-punch knockout of arch rival George Groves in the eighth round of a hate-fueled rematch.
“I am so satisfied,” Froch said of the finishing right hand. “It was a conclusive, unquestionable finish that I can’t even put into words. I’ve watched it about 100 times, and if you blink you miss it, but when you watch it properly, then that shot literally exploded on the point of his chin.
“You can tell I’m still enjoying this, can’t you?”
Nobody can deny Carl Froch a bit of gloating. Wembley broke records, made history and this incredible 36-year-old openly admits that it’ll be almost impossible to top that momentous occasion. Still, there remains a swankier backdrop within which “The Cobra” has yet to strike.
“Boxing is an entertainment business” said Froch (33-2, 24 knockouts). “The only fight out there to get me motivated, to get people excited, is a Las Vegas rumble with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I’m not in the game for money, but that is a lucrative matchup which will grab the attention of the American television networks.
“Chavez gives me a hard fight, and all the ingredients are there. His Mexican followers and my British support set against an American backdrop.”
Yes, Froch vs. Chavez guarantees fireworks, but when you look back at the 12-year professional career of the three-time super middleweight titleholder, it has been one blazing bonfire after another.
The man of the moment agreed to speak to THE RING about the best opponents he’s faced in 10 key categories.
Andre Dirrell and Andre Ward: Dirrell was good boxing at range, and Ward is intelligent up close. Those two are standout.
Ward: That is a key weapon for him, and he hooks well off the jab as well. He caught me with a lot of jabs in our fight and works that shot well to the body and head. He’s also careful not to leave himself open when he jabs to the body, like I do sometimes. He gets in and gets out.
Ward: He nullifies opponents and takes away your advantages. He beat me fair and square, and always finds a way to win, but I wasn’t switched on when we met the first time. Look at what I’ve done since that fight – five wins and four knockouts against top opposition. People say Ward outclassed me, but two of the judges had the fight 115-113 for a reason. Hypothetically, if a rematch ever happened in England, then I’m confident I could give him a good pasting. He made our fight boring, but I know what has to be done to make it exciting. As I said, though, television isn’t interested and neither are the fans.
Glen Johnson: He was never in trouble, and I hit him with some really heavy digs. I saw him coming, set my feet, hit him with combinations, reset myself and hammered him with more big shots. All of that and he was going nowhere. He was switched on that night, because the prize was a huge fight with Ward, so I had to be on form.
Robin Reid: He hurt me the most with a single shot. I can’t say George Groves because he caught me square on in the first fight, when I left my feet behind me. That was a heavy knockdown made worse by my balance being off. Also, after his fast start dwindled, I came
on strong, so I can’t say Groves. I remember Reid hitting me and saying, ‘F—ing hell, that hurt.’ Jermain Taylor had me down, but that was more of a sharp shot. Robin Reid could really bang, and in my opinion he deserved the win over Joe Calzaghe in their fight. That said, Calzaghe had to be tough to walk through the right hands he took from Reid.
Dirrell: Dirrell was like lightning. He was fast, athletic, good on his feet and he could bang. Dirrell perhaps lacked the mindset for the game, and without that you’re just a fancy sports car, running on empty. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
Dirrell: He fought scared, and I think I got into his head a bit during the buildup. It was close on the scoring because of his movement, but I just kept applying the pressure. Dirrell was never the same after that fight, although he was looking great against Arthur Abraham before being knocked out illegally. Andre Dirrell was a very good fighter – amateur and professional.
Ward: He’s good at what he does, very effective, and he knows how to beat you in a bore-fest. He’s able to get off what works best for him, which is very clever. It’s just unfortunate that nobody wants to watch Andre Ward fight. I could do far better against him in a rematch, but I don’t have the motivation, and nobody is demanding it now.
No one in particular: There’s honestly not one name that sticks out here. Arthur Abraham was strong, but he couldn’t hit me. Mikkel Kessler and Jean Pascal were strong. At that level, they’re all f—ing strong, let’s be honest.
Mikkel Kessler: He’s the best all-rounder. He can box, punch, fight up close, and his jab is excellent. The reason his jab is so effective is because he’s left-handed but fights orthodox. Kessler has good defense, but he’ll stand there and have a fight with you. He is one very tough man and took great shots from me in both our fights.
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