By Michael Norby: With a little over three weeks remaining before he defends his WBC super middleweight championship for the first time Carl Froch says that he is extremely confident that victory over his challenger, former 160lb king Jermain Taylor, is certain and will represent the first marquee victory on his resume as he introduces himself to the American market.
Froch 24-0 (19) will leave the comforts of his native England to battle Taylor 28-2-1 (17) at The MGM Grand at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA on Saturday April 25th in a fight that will bring the Nottingham fighter into American homes via the Showtime network.
It’s a challenge that Froch welcomes eagerly.
“I’m coming into this fight confident that I’ll be taking my belts home with me,” Froch told reporters on an international conference call. “Obviously, to come and establish myself in the States, this is what I need to do. I need to come to America and showcase my talents and that’s the reason I’m coming over there”
Froch won the WBC title in a wildly entertaining battle with Canadian Jean Pascal in his hometown last December but a quick look at his resume tells the story of a strong, undefeated fighter devoid of a career defining elite opponent. Jermain Taylor finally provides the 31-year-old with a high profile platform to prove, or otherwise, his top level caliber.
“You could say that Jermain Taylor is the biggest name that I’ve boxed up until this point,” Froch conceded. “But, how would you define a great fighter? Jean Pascal was 26 years old, hungry and unbeaten. He was a young and talented fighter coming to put it all on the line and didn’t know what it was like to lose. I’d say that was a big fight for me and a fight that I won convincingly in an exciting matchup.”
Having competed at 168lbs throughout his career, Froch, who also possesses excellent power, certainly has the physical attributes to give his challenger problems. Indeed, Taylor has been unable to knock out any of his opponents (including junior middleweights Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks) in over four years and has suffered two defeats in his last three fights – including a brutal 2007 knockout suffered at the hands of middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.
Taylor, needless to say, does not seem worried.
“I’m not worried about his strength,” Taylor said in a matter of fact manner when pressed on the issue of size difference, “He’s a strong fighter, so what? I’ll just go in there and box the hell out of him.”
He added, “I think he’s too slow. The guy doesn’t know how to lose. So someone has to teach him how to lose. I have to break him down.”
Not that Taylor isn’t taking the fight seriously. After breaking a two fight losing streak by soundly defeating former world champion Jeff Lacy five months ago, the American surely realizes that a loss at this stage to a dangerous but unknown quantity like Froch would be a disaster for his career.
“He’s still a world champion,” he stated. “It doesn’t matter who knows him or who doesn’t. At the end of the day, he’s still got the belt. So, of course, I’m taking it seriously. I haven’t trained this hard in a long time. I got a chance to get a belt back and I’m going to take it. This is the best that you’re going to see me fight in my life”
It’s an intriguing contest and one that sets the victor up for possible tasty unification bouts with Lucian Bute (IBF) or Mikkel Kessler (WBA). Intriguing in that Froch’s career has been largely loaded with fighters who, whilst considered solid at British domestic level, cannot really be used as a measuring stick for how the well spoken Englishman will perform against the 168lb elite. Even his victory over Pascal that, whilst coming against the most dangerous opponent of his career thus far, doesn’t measure up to a fighter, like Taylor, who has consistently fought and proven himself against top names over the last five years.
On the flip side, Taylor’s victory over Lacy may have lifted his confidence but it came against a once feared but clearly diminished former champion. So, do the shadows of deeply depressing losses against Pavlik still linger? Will a lack of power prove to be his Achilles heel? After stopping 17 of his first 22 opponents, the last person who the Arkansan managed to seriously dent was Daniel Edouard way back in 2005.
Taylor’s promoter Lou Di Bella tried to dilute questions about his fighter’s past inability to stop smaller fighters by offering, “who looks good against a Cory Spinks or a Kassim Ouma?”
Froch beamed and chuckled at the chance to present a smart retort, “I think Zab Judah looked good against Spinks when he knocked him out.”