HE has kissed and made up with long-term domestic rival George Groves, but Carl Froch, one of Britain’s finest super-middleweights, still seems a way off patching things up with American Andre Ward, the only man to comprehensively beat him as a pro.
The pair would have been reunited last weekend – eight years after their 2011 fight – but Froch happened to be away sunning himself in Spain on the day Ward headed to Britain to cover Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Luke Campbell for US television.
Opportunity missed, Ward accused Froch of running scared, deliberately booking a holiday to coincide with his own trip to the UK, while Froch says Ward only agreed to visit England once he realised there would be no chance of their paths crossing.
“Ward barely leaves his home country,” he told Sky Sports. “He only came to England, because he knew I was in Spain. I could see him looking at my stories on Instagram, so he knew I was out of the country.
“It’s all history and I’m grateful to Ward because he made me the animal I became to beat Lucian Bute. From there, I sold 80,000 tickets at Wembley Stadium, and he could not sell out a phone box.”
Although Froch claims it is all history, both have a habit of dragging it back up and getting playful. Ward likes being known as the one fighter who had Froch’s number – the one man he never managed to defeat as a pro – and Froch, too, gets a kick out of knowing he recovered from that 2011 loss to become not only a world champion again but a big star in his home country.
Both were winners in their own way, then, even if Froch disagrees with the methods Ward used to achieve some of his notable wins.
“I’m just honest about what I see, and I think his style is borderline cheating,” said ‘The Cobra’. “Listen, he beat me fair and square, let’s get that straight. But it was one of the worst fights I’ve been involved in since Matthew Barney, who nobody will know. That’s when somebody smothers you, puts their head on your chest, and basically holds you at any given moment they can, and ducks low.
“You have to admire him for going through his career unbeaten, but he’s not an entertainer, and in an entertaining sport it’s good to entertain. Andre Ward’s style is effective, but it’s boring. You’ll never re-watch a Ward fight. He fought the most feared man in boxing, Sergey Kovalev, twice. Let’s be honest, he beat him with low blows in the end.
“All I do is tell the truth. If the truth hurts and you don’t like it, do something about it. He can’t argue with me.”
A rematch between the pair perhaps would have settled the feud, or at least stopped it gathering pace and carrying on into retirement. But that, Froch says, was never likely to happen.
“We offered him the fight at the Nottingham Forest ground and Eddie Hearn can confirm this,” he said. “I know that’s my hometown, but he turned it down, saying I want Wembley Stadium.
“Unfortunately, Ward, at the time no one was interested in seeing me and you at Wembley Stadium. After the Groves fight, maybe we’ll do Wembley, but we couldn’t do it at that time.”
As nice as it is to see fighters like Froch and Groves bury the hatchet after years of bad blood, it’s sometimes just as nice to see a couple of great champions maintain the fighting spirit, competitive edge and ego responsible for making them so special in the first place. It makes what happened all those years seem all the more real. All the more meaningful and worthwhile.
If Tyson Fury’s September 14 fight against Otto Wallin in Las Vegas didn’t seem pointless enough already, it now has a shiny new title to add to its pointlessness.
The World Boxing Council [WBC] have today announced that they will apply a ‘Mayan’ belt to the heavyweight mismatch, a belt created to celebrate Mayan culture, and that the winner will have the dubious honour of calling themselves ‘WBC Mayan heavyweight champion’.
Don’t worry, the belt won’t overshadow Fury’s lineal heavyweight championship, nor is it intended to be used as an actual title worthy of being defended. Instead, it is merely a continuation of the WBC’s tradition of awarding special trinket belts to fights taking place on Mexico’s two major holidays – Cinco De Mayo and Mexican Independence Day – each year.
This year Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was forced to push back his Mexican Independence Day outing, due to a lack of opponents, which meant the WBC, now very much in the belt-making business, had some new belts they wanted to hand out.
These Mayan titles, two of them, will be on the line when Fury fights Wallin and also when Mexico’s Jaime Munguia defends his WBO super-welterweight title against Patrick Allotey that same weekend.
According to a WBC statement, “The Mayan belt is not a championship but a trophy and recognition to the winner of the fight.”
Great. There was more too.
“A unique masterpiece,” is how they describe the belt, “which symbolically represents the eighteen centuries of Mayan Culture in the Year of the Mayans.”
According to WBO president Paco Valcarel, meanwhile, the belt is the latest in a long line of pointless trinkets attached to pointless fights. He wrote on Twitter : “What the hell are these people from another sanctioning body doing handing out copper and silver Mayan pearl studded aluminium Aztec belts in bouts sponsored by other organizations, to contenders who don’t really care about these palooka belts.
“This needs to stop, enough already.”
Fair to say Paco Valcarel won’t be getting a Mayan belt in the post anytime soon. And if he does, by some bizarre accident, or as some sick joke, it will no doubt be returned to sender. Unworn, untouched.