Who’s next for Carl Froch?
By Robbie Bannatyne: Speculation abounds as to who will be the next opponent for IBF/WBA super middleweight champion Carl Froch (31-2, 22 KO’s). After his last fight, a brilliant unanimous victory in the rematch with Mikkel Kessler, the IBF champion expressed his desire to again revenge over the only other man who has beaten him- the undefeated Andre Ward.
A unification bout with Andre Ward and Carl Froch with the Super Middleweight IBF and WBA titles at stake is a mouth watering prospect, as is the possibility of a third epic with the Great Dane. There are certain parallels and similar merits about going into battle with both men again; they would both generate huge profits; they are the most viable fights in the division; and would both capture the imagination of the boxing public on both sides of the Atlantic.
It is at this point in the narrative where the similarities between both bouts end however. As Froch’s previous duel with the 29 year old Ward in comparison to his howitzers with Kessler could not have unfolded any differently. In the case of the latter, the 35 year old 168lb warrior is cut from an almost identical fighting cloth as the Cobra, which dictated that there was no other way for their fights to be anything but the inexhaustible, highly combustible, blood curdling thrillers in which both fighters hurt each other and got hurt with alarming regularity. In contrast, Ward takes an almost polar opposite approach when boxing- his fighting style is so rich in grace and elegance that it betrays the brutality of boxing, whereas Froch’s style defines the often violent nature of their profession.
Those words were in no way an attempt to undermine the ability of Froch, he is a very accomplished boxer. But, he cannot match the class of Ward, who performs each contest with the type of bravura normally associated with the conductor of a world class orchestra, outclassing his opponent with the genius of his polished, highly sophisticated and technical style, making elite fighters including Froch and Kessler, look crude and ordinary.
The overwhelming ease with which the ‘Mayweather of the Middleweight Divisions’ overcame Froch cannot be overstated: he was giving a boxing lesson in a comprehensive defeat.
The convincing nature of his defeat of Froch alluded to the gulf in class- as far as pure boxing is concerned- between the two men, and the 35 year old Englishman looked dumbfounded by Wards lateral movement and hugely impressive repertoire of jinks, feints and shoulder roles, which made him a seemingly impossible target to hit. However, his frustrating inability to land clean, effective power shots on Wards says more about the Americans mastery than it does about Froch’s shortfalls. Boxing fans would struggle to muster a name from the middleweight divisions in recent memory who would have been able to spurn the advances of such relentless offensive fighters as Kessler and Froch the way Ward so easily did for the duration of their fights.
However, ever since that painful defeat, Froch has looked like an unstoppable force of nature, and his last three fights, two of which have been devastating knockouts, must surely rank among the best in his career. And he would need to produce the goods again and knock Ward out to stand any chance of winning a rematch with the peerless Super Middleweight King.
Whilst this is by no means impossible it is, a highly improbable outcome, especially given Wards aversion to engaging in proper exchanges with his opponents, especially fighters like Froch who possess the ability to ring off combinations of ferocious power for 12 rounds. If anything, in the event of a rematch, Ward would probably approach Froch with even more caution after witnessing at firsthand exactly what he is really capable of in his 2nd fight with Kessler.
And it is for this reason that he should abandon the notion of gaining revenge against Ward, for the time being anyway, and instead, focus his attentions for his next fights on targets that are lot closer to home.
Both of the other eminent British Super Middleweight prospects George Groves and James De Gale think they have what it takes to tame the Cobra, so the Sheriff of Nottingham should first lay down the law on these domestic upstarts before perhaps trying to bring Andre Ward to justice.