ATLANTIC CITY — On Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall, Carl Froch, of England, will take on THE RING’s No. 9 pound-for-pound fighter, Andre Ward, of Oakland, Calif., in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic championship final.
Ward (24-0, 13 knockouts) is putting his WBA crown up against WBC beltholder Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) in a clash for THE RING’s vacant 168-pound title.
The 34-year-old Froch, of Nottingham, has spent just over three years facing the most talented fighters in the division, having battled his way to victories over Jean Pascal, who he outpointed for the vacant WBC title in December of 2008, and Jermain Taylor, whom he vanquished by come-from-behind, 12th-round knockout, in his first defense.
In the tournament, Froch defended his belt by decision over previously unbeaten Andre Dirrell in October of 2009, was dethroned following an exciting decision loss to Mikkel Kessler on the Dane’s home turf in April of last year, and regained the belt by routing former middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham seventh months later in November.
In June’s tournament semifinals, Froch earned a one-sided victory over former light heavyweight champ Glen Johnson, setting up Saturday night’s fight.
But long before bursting onto the scene against Pascal, Froch was literally screaming out loud to be taken seriously by the boxing world in general, and, in particular, by former undisputed super middleweight titleholder Joe Calzaghe.
“I was knocking on the door as the WBC’s No. 1 contender and he was WBC champion, and I wasn’t asking him to do me a favor and to make me a voluntary defense, I was the mandatory to his belt. I was really, really trying to get the fight on,” said Froch.
“I would have turned up in Cardiff, his home town, because I really felt like if I would have boxed him, that I would have beat him. But I’m also totally honest that if the fight would have happened, it’s a fight that I could have lost.”
Calzaghe, now 39, retired undefeated with a mark of 46-0 that included 32 knockouts, this after ending his career with consecutive decision wins over current RING and WBC light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr., in April and November of 2008, respectively.
“It was the right move for his family and financially as well by taking a fight with Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones. But for me, the issue is that I felt that he should have fought me, because I was the mandatory,” said Froch.
“So instead of fighting me, he vacated the title, and I don’t fault the guy, because I ended up getting to fight Pascal for the vacant title. I think that Calzaghe made the right move and made the right decision for himself.”
Also among the greatest triumphs for Calzaghe were those over former beltholders Jeff Lacy and Kessler. Lacy and Kessler were unbeaten when Calzaghe vanquished them both by unanimous decisions in March of 2006, and, November of 2007, respectively.
Lacy was 21-0, with 17 knockouts, including four straight stoppages, when Calzaghe dethroned him as IBF beltholder, adding his crown to the WBO belt he already owned. Calzaghe dropped Lacy in the 12th round.
Kessler was 39-0 with 29 knockouts, when Calzaghe dethroned him as WBC and WBA beltholder. That win over Kessler marked Calzaghe’s 21st and final defense of the WBO belt that he earned by unanimous decision over Chris Eubank, whom he floored in the first round of their bout in October of 1997.
“Calzaghe had a phenomenal workrate and he was a great fighter. He retired undefeated, and if our fight would have gone the distance, in his home town, potentially, I would not have gotten the decision. But I would have gone into that fight thinking that I’m going to knock him out, you know?” said Froch.
“Putting it on him and hurting him and getting the decision that I wanted. I feel that he was there ready for the taking. I’ve proven myself against the level of fighters that I’ve been facing time, after time, after time, after time. I’ve proven that when I called Joe Calzaghe out, that I was serious about wanting to fight him.”
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Photo by Chris Cozzone, Fightwire Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com