Jean Pascal, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham: A list of five of the best fighters in and around the 160-175lbs weight classes over the last few years, and Carl Froch’s last five opponents. In those five fights, Froch has a record of 4 wins and 1 close points defeat.
No British fighter – even Joe Calzaghe – has had five opponents as good as Froch has fought since becoming WBC super-middleweight champion in 2008. And with the exception of the Andre Dirrell fight last year (a split decision points win against boxing’s equivalent of a marathon runner) all the fights have been fight of the year potential. The Kessler fight in April was one of the most brutal fights ever. It was a throwback fight, the kind that Jake La Motta would have enjoyed in the 1950′s. It was Froch’s only defeat, and Kessler has not fought since. Boxing related eye injuries may curtain his career, and Froch’s punches played a significant role in it.
Froch has not had much luck with representation. He hasn’t always come across very well in the media, especially when trying to goad Joe Calzaghe into fighting him. Calzaghe was at the peak of his popularity and looking for huge final paydays against Hopkins and Jones. The public were turned off by Froch’s persistent heckling and arrogant boasts.
He has also suffered from ‘Larry Holmes syndrome’, when a very good fighter follows a truly great fighter and cannot engage the general public in the same way. Larry Holmes followed Muhammad Ali. Carl Froch is following Joe Calzaghe, arguably the greatest British fighter of all time.
TV hasn’t helped. Froch started his career on the BBC when they were dipping their toes in the water again with boxing. Those toes were well and truly bitten off by the Audley Harrison shambles and Carl Froch defected to ITV – but once again terrestrial TV turned its back on the sweet science. A few Sky Sports showings followed but consistent coverage has not been forthcoming. The Abraham and Kessler fights – guaranteed barnstormers – were to be found on the relatively obscure Primetime channel.
There is bitterness in Froch, but it’s served him well in the ring. But since the birth of his child five months ago – and a humbling first defeat at the hands of Kessler – Froch seems to have matured and his demeanour has softened slightly. He still feels hard done by – especially when he sees Amir Khan and David Haye fighting lesser opponents on pay-per-view – but he is fighting top quality opposition and he is winning.
Eventually people will realise that Britain had another great super-middleweight world champion. It might just be after Carl Froch has retired that people realise it. That will be a shame.