Michael Rosenthal

Froch dominates Abraham in near shutout

Arthur Abraham (right) had no answers for Carl Froch on Saturday night in Helsinki, Finland. Photo / Tom Casino-Showtime

Carl Froch has surprised a lot of people in the Super Six World Boxing Classic.

First, he outpointed slick Andre Dirrell. Then he lost a decision in a competitive fight against Mikkel Kessler, who many picked to win the tournament going in. And he saved his best for his last fight of the competition’s opening round.

Froch (27-1, 20 knockouts) embarrassed Arthur Abraham with a boxing performance that few thought he was capable of, losing only one round on the three official cards Saturday in Helsinki, Finland.

The Englishman used his jab and kept his distance from his smaller opponent the entire fight, scoring consistently from the outside and deftly avoiding Abraham’s best punches. The Armenian couldn’t figure out how to get inside Froch’s long reach with any consistency.

We all waited for the late rally for which Abraham (31-2, 25 KOs) is famous but it never came.

In the end, a matchup that many thought shaped up to be a fight-of-the-year candidate was more one-sided than the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight on Nov. 13, which is a credit to Froch.

The Englishman finished the group stage in second place with four points, behind Andre Ward with six. Glen Johnson, a late entry into the tournament, and Abraham both finished with three points but Johnson wins a tiebreaker based on scorecard points.

Thus, Froch will face Johnson and Ward will fight Abraham in the semifinals next year.

Some observers saw Froch as a tough, but crude boxer who wasn’t quite at the level of Kessler, Abraham and possibly even Jermain Taylor. And he was put in the class of Ward and Dirrell only because he was more experienced then they were.

However, he has proved to be more than just a tough, confident brawler. He doesn’t have the physical gifts of someone like Dirrell but he’s a very good, smart boxer who outwitted Abraham as much anything else.

He’ll face a tough test in the wily Johnson, who will be 42 in January, but no one will surprised if Froch wins based on what he’s demonstrated in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Abraham has been a bust. He was seen as a ferocious knockout artist who had barely been challenged his career. That’s why some -– including the RingTV.com co-editors -– thought he would win the tournament.

However, Taylor demonstrated before he was stopped in the 12th round that a good boxer can give Abraham trouble. Dirrell thoroughly outboxed the former middleweight titleholder before Abraham was disqualified in the 11th round for punching Dirrell while he was down.

And Froch, who apparently paid attention to the Taylor and Dirrell fights, took it to the next level. Abraham, clearly discouraged late in the fight, was rendered all but helpless against a superior fighter.

And it might be an uphill battle for Abraham, who now faces the most-impressive fighter in the tournament.

On one hand, he has a chance to turn his suddenly floundering career around with one victory. On the other, he will have lost three consecutive fights if he can’t beat Ward. That’s the kind of hole from which some fighters never emerge.

The fight on Saturday was for the super middleweight title Froch lost to Kessler, who then vacated it.

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