SUPERLATIVES are fast being exhausted in an effort to describe Carl Froch’s continuous carousel of victims. The atmosphere at the O2 Arena on Saturday night was fizzing with anticipation as the combatants somehow mustered the moxy and courage to surpass their first brutal encounter in 2010.
These two gladiators of the squared circle tore into each other with total disregard for their superbly conditioned bodies as both had promised in the lead up. Whilst there could be little doubt the Cobra deserved the victory after 12 pulsating rounds, the 118-110 scorecard returned by seasoned Nevada judge Adalaide Byrd seemed a little disrespectful to Mikkel Kessler’s herculean, but ultimately futile efforts.
Froch is fast turning into a modern day Rocky Marciano. The undefeated heavyweight great may not have been the most asthetically pleasing or gifted of fighters but the Brockton Blockbuster’s will to win was legendary when compiling a flawless 49-0 ledger. The two also share the common thread of having to follow in the footsteps of two fistic legends who dominated their respective divisions.
Marciano had the misfortune of trying to galvanise a heavyweight division that the ‘Brown Bomber’ Joe Louis had ruled over for 12 years from 1937-49, transcending the sport in the process. Likewise, Froch has had to fill the super-middleweight vacuum left by Joe Calzaghe when the Newbridge man retired unbeaten after 46 men had gallantly tried and failed to conquer.
The Cobra has been pushed from pillar to post, from one television network to another despite an endless list of fan-friendly tussles with a grueling gauntlet of foes. He started out on the BBC, appearing as the supporting cast in the ill-fated, but regrettably continuing, Audley Harrison roadshow.
Sky then oversaw his domestic rise only to cast him aside before he challenged for world honours. Having again thrilled his home faithful when outpointing Jean Pascal for the vacant WBC crown in December 2008, Froch was again left in the wilderness following ITV’s decision to leave the sport.
This ludricrous situation left the Cobra without a TV platform for his first world title defence against former middleweight king Jermain Taylor in 2009, despite attracting over three million ITV viewers against Pascal. The Nottingham man’s thrilling last round stoppage, when behind on all the cards, was played out to a miniscule online viewing fraternity in a rickety casino hall in Mashantucket, Connecticut before barely 4000 hardened boxing souls.
Fast forward four years and seven world title defences, six of which were against top-line opponents (Yusaf Mack being the notable anomaly), courtesy of Showtime’s innovative Super Six tournament, and Froch had earned his place at the box office top table against the Viking Warrior in their Saturday night sequel.
Division-leader Andre Ward is the obvious next foe, however, given the ease at which the American disposed of Froch in the Super Six final 18 months ago, a revenge mission frought with danger. Despite Froch’s increased profile, Ward, as the undefeated division-ruler with a lucrative HBO deal, can afford to call the shots. Although ‘The Son of God’ is one of the pound-for-pound leaders, his technical acumen and lack of knockout power means he doesn’t carry the commercial appeal of other recent American world champions who crossed the Atlantic - Gerald McClellan and Jeff Lacy spring to mind - even if he was prepared to leave his Bay Area fortress.
George Groves’ recent sparring sessions with Kessler in Denmark have also added an intriguing super middleweight sub-plot, with Froch unimpressed with his efforts to prepare Kessler. The former British champion impressively stopped Noe Gonzalez on the O2 undercard and ‘Saint George’ has not been backwards at coming forward when expressing a somewhat cheeky desire to face the main event winner.
However, whilst Froch was quick to dismiss such a demand, citing Groves’ lack of quality foes, the Cobra should perhaps think of his equally audacious and sometimes derogatory remarks aimed at Calzaghe when the Welshman ruled the roost at 168lbs. At the time Froch was the domestic king having disposed of Brian Magee in a York Hall classic in May 2006, whilst Calzaghe had unified the IBF and WBO titles a month earlier when dismantling America’s rising star Jeff Lacy over 12 one-sided rounds in Manchester.
Froch may yet pay more than slightly patronising lip service to Groves, having called out the division’s best himself when seeking to climb the super-middleweight ladder. Groves and James DeGale enthralled a capacity crowd at the O2 in 2011 and another domestic dust-up in North Greenwich between two Matchroom stablemates could appeal to Froch and Eddie Hearn. Britain’s ultimate ring warrior could then embark on a crusade to down the Son of God and leave us all worshipping the Cobra.