Betfair Warrior's Call: Why Carl Froch has earned his place in the sun

23May 2013



Carl Froch may have started his career as a mouthy young upstart, but he's far from that now, says boxing expert Alex Reid...


Carl Froch was a bullshit artist. His boxing career didn't begin in the glow of publicity which accompanied Olympians Amir Khan or Audley Harrison, already famous before their first pro fight. He didn't very quickly build up a large, dedicated following in the manner of Ricky Hatton. He wasn't a huge-punching big man like his good friend David Haye.


So during the early years of his professional career, Froch - or at least some people around him - felt the need to drum up publicity via some attention-grabbing quotes. He attempted to goad his fellow super-middleweight Joe Calzaghe into a fight while also proclaiming himself the finest athlete in the country. "I am, without exception, Britain's most talented sportsperson, pound-for-pound, sport-for-sport," he was quoted as proclaiming in 2004, before setting his sights on the British sporting royalty in David Beckham and Tiger Tim. "I have more all-round attributes than any of the guys I mentioned as an example, including Beckham and Henman. I am fitter, faster, stronger and have more bottle."


Heady stuff, considering Froch had had just 14 pro fights. Whatever skill he'd shown in winning the British super-middleweight title, the Nottingham boxer was in danger of appearing something like a sideshow attraction, more famous for a few outlandish comments than his in-ring performances. Fast-forward almost a decade and the contrast is startling. Froch is a boxer renowned for being all substance, his remarkable CV a who's who of the best in his division. From Jean Pascal in 2008 to Lucian Bute in 2012, he went on an incredible eight-fight run, taking on world champions, unbeaten stars and tough contenders without respite.


'The Cobra' also seems far more comfortable in his own skin. In 2011, now a two-time world champion and finally getting deserved respect, he admitted a tinge of regret over some of his brash early bombast. "I wish, actually, that I never put the tick in the box when some of the press releases were put together for me a few years ago," he told broadcaster Steve Bunce. "They were put in front of me and I said, 'yeah, go on send it'."


These days, Froch's record does the talking for him. It's hard to think of a boxer who's taken on more elite fighters consecutively over the last five years. As is inevitable when you keep on fighting the best, however, it hasn't all been plain-sailing. In 2010, Froch lost his first world title belt and his unbeaten record in Denmark to national hero Mikkel Kessler. It was a terrific fight, a brutal scrap of skill and will in which both men hit and hurt the other. The result was a close points loss for Froch, but it was a defeat nonetheless and it rankled. "When my head hits the pillow at night, I still think about that loss," he later admitted.


Watching Carl Froch train, just a few days before the fight, he doesn't look a man struggling with sleepless nights. Notorious for barely getting out of fighting shape - his trainer Rob McCracken calls him "one of those annoying blokes who never really eats badly", while offering around a bag of Revels - he's 35 years of age but could pass for a man a decade younger. Trim, lithe and already on-weight, his gloves crash into McCracken's pads for three minutes at a time, one minute break, then back to work again. He goes through a similar routine on the heavybag afterwards. By the end of the session, he's coated in a sheen of sweat but barely appears out of breath as he skips through his warm-down. At this stage, his training is all fine-tuning. The hard work has been done over a long camp.


Mikkel Kessler has been training with intensity as well, judging from the videos coming out of Denmark. The affable Dane looks fit and ready, but there are question marks over him. It isn't always true that the winner of a fight is the boxer who's taken the least punishment. After the Froch fight, a bruised Kessler took a break from the sport to allow an eye injury he'd been nursing to fully heal. The 34-year-old Dane went 14 months without a contest, but has won all three fights of his comeback by stoppage, with no noticeable depreciation of his boxing skills or power. However he's completed just nine full rounds in the process. By contrast, Froch has boxed 42 full rounds and been involved in three 12-round title fights since their first fight. So is Kessler the fresher man likely to have more in the tank or does the Froch have a battle-hardened edge?


We'll find out in what should be an epic rematch, but when boxers are so evenly matched as Froch and Kessler clearly are, the intangibles can be the difference. No one who's watched the first fight would question Kessler's fighting heart or warrior spirit, but he's had one foot in retirement already and there's a slight doubt as to whether he wants this quite as much as his personal friend and in-ring rival. With Froch there are no such queries. Haye, Khan and Hatton have had their moments in the sun, but the 35-year-old Froch has shown the desire and determination to push all of them into his shadow.


Who knows if he's Britain's best athlete, but his accomplishments clearly make him country's no.1 pound-for-pound boxer. There's no bullshit about Froch any more. Mikkel Kessler may need to produce the performance of his life if he's to avoid being yet another boxer muscled into the shade by the burning ambition of Carl Froch.


Recommended Bet


The safe, solid tip is Froch via points, as it's hard to force a stoppage when two fighters are so evenly matched - but Froch has forced the pace well in his last two fights. If he can do that this time, he might wear Kessler down force a late intervention. Froch by stoppage in rounds 10, 11 or 12 are generously priced at 34.0, 36.0 and 46.0



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Keywords: Betfair, Warrior Call, Carl Froch

Source: Betfair

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