A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Carl Froch decides to call it a day
When Joe Calzaghe retired in 2008, he cemented his legacy as perhaps the greatest super middleweight fighter in boxing history. Calzaghe went undefeated throughout his 15-year career. He made 21 defenses of the world super middleweight championship and unified the WBO/IBF/WBA and WBC 168-pound championships. His biggest victories occurred against Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Jr. Mikkel Kessler, Jeff Lacy, and Chris Eubank.
When Calzaghe retired, the question was who would emerge as boxing’s next great super middleweight champion. It took a longtime, but Carl Froch, like Calzaghe, will be remembered as one of the greatest super middleweight boxers of all-time.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but it wasn’t as difficult as people might think,” Froch reportedly said. “I turned 38. My joints and bones are aching. If the desire was there, I could fight again but there’s nothing motivating me. I’ve got nothing left to prove and I’m bowing out at the top.”
Froch made his professional debut in March 2002 against Michael Pinnock in London, England. Froch easily dispatched Pinnock in four rounds. Although Froch would claim the British super middleweight and Commonwealth super middleweight titles, it wasn’t until his stoppages of Brian Magee, Tony Dodson, and former world champion Robin Reid, and undefeated Albert Rybacki that the Froch was considered a dangerous super middleweight title contender.
In December 2008, six years after his professional debut, Froch earned the right to face Jean Pascal for the vacant WBC super-middleweight championship. Pascal, known for his hand speed, couldn’t match Froch’s power. Froch decisively outpointed Pascal through twelve rounds to claim his first world title by wide-margin scores: 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.
Froch fought all of his professional fights in England (mainly at home in Nottingham), but wanted to become a star in the United States. Froch wanted to fight the best and the best fighters world-wide were here in America.
Making the first defense of the WBC super-middleweight championship, Froch left his native England to fight Jermain Taylor, the former undisputed world middleweight champion at Foxwoods in April 2009. Taylor boxed extremely well and even sent Froch to the canvas for the first time in his career. The undefeated Froch was faced with the daunting task of having to defend his world title for the first time in another country, in addition to having been knocked down, and trailing the fight on the judges’ scorecards.
It was turning into a real nightmare for Froch, as his championship was slipping away. Froch desperately needed a knockout to win.
And he got it!!
Froch pressured Taylor around the ring with hard rights and lefts in the final round. Taylor, noticeably tiring and slowing down rapidly, was caught with a right-hand that sent him down into a corner. Taylor beat the count, but Froch’s power and accuracy knocked Taylor out on his feet with just 14 seconds way from the final bell. Taylor was simply 14 seconds away from wining Froch’s belt, but the champion scored a rare come-from-behind knockout in the twelfth round to retain his title.
Froch’s knockout of Taylor made him a star.
In 2009, Froch entered boxing’s first-ever Super Six: World Boxing Classic. It was a single elimination tournament that included a round-robin point system similar to the World Cup. The winner would walk away with as the unified WBC/WBA super middleweight champion and a prestigious championship trophy
The tournament lasted two years.
In the tournament, Froch successfully defended his title against undefeated Andre Dirrell, via split decision, before losing his WBC title to Mikkell Kessler, before regaining the WBC super-middleweight title against Arthur Abraham, and defeated Glen Johnson to reach the finals.
In the final round, Froch came up short against Andre Ward, who went undefeated in the entire tournament. In the tournament, Froch fought the very best super middleweights in the world. His fight with Kessler was perhaps the best fight in the entire tournament. Froch’s fights against Dirrell, Abraham, Johnson, and Ward were all grueling as well, but these were the fights that gave Froch his superstardom in boxing and may have cemented his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame five years from his final fight when he is eligible for the ballot.
Even after the Super Six concluded, Froch continued to do some amazing things in his career.
Many boxing writers criticized the decision of not inviting unbeaten IBF super middleweight champion, Lucian Buteinto the Super Six tournament. Following the defeat to Ward, Froch returned home to Nottingham to fight Bute for the IBF 168-pound title. Froch destroyed Bute (a southpaw) with ease to the shock and dismay of many.
In the opening round, Froch landed a hard left that stunned Bute. The second round, Bute staggered a bit on his feet, as Froch threw flurries to throw him off balance. Early in the third round, Bute opened up with a combination that landed against Froch flush, but Froch immediately fought back. Froch landed a series of flurries that backed Bute up against the ropes. Bute was noticeably shaken a few times by Froch’s right hand. At the end of the third round, Frcoh used Bute for target practice. Froch was throwing punches in bunches and Bute simply couldn’t avoid them, nor keep up with Froch fighting pace. Froch continued to blitz Bute with punishing combinations, as Bute’s face became increasingly swollen and bloody. In the fifth round, a sharp-punching Froch relentlessly attacked Bute, who couldn’t keep his head on his shoulders, as the referee stopped the fight.
Froch was champion once again and would retire, as the unified IBF/WBA super middleweight kingpin. Froch avenged his loss to Kessler by winning a 12-round decision two years ago, after knocking out Yusaf Mack, but Froch ended his career with two stunning knockouts of fellow countryman George Groves.
In November 2013, a 19-0 Groves challenged Froch for his unified world titles. Groves set the tone by knocking Froch down in the first round. Groves was really taking the fight to Froch, who was losing on points. Groves was getting the better of the majority of the exchanges, but Froch’s power made up the difference. In the ninth round, Froch was on the attack. He pummeled Groves with hard rights and lefts, as Groves was being knocked around from one side of the ring to the next. Froch was losing the fight, but he was seriously pummeling Groves, who was still throwing back punches. Suddenly the referee stopped the fight, as Froch retained his titles by the whisker.
The controversial ending sent shockwaves through the sport, as a rematch was called. In May 2014, Groves was awarded a highly-anticipated rematch, but this time more than 80,000 fans packed London’s Wembley Stadium to watch two of England’s biggest rivals fight again.
The rematch was just as exciting as the first fight, as Froch appeared much sharper and better prepared. Whenever Froch got close enough to Groves, he didn’t hesitate to unleash his power on Groves. In the eighth round, Froch threw a left hook that set up a knockout right-hook that floored Groves for a spectacular and decisive finish.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 14 months since Froch’s last fight. What a way to end a highly-dramatic and action-packed career that included three world title reigns. Every fight for Froch was a big fight, and yes, sometimes there was controversy, but there was always a decisive finish.