Carl Froch stunned Jermain Taylor with a late comeback that resulted in a stoppage with just 16 seconds left in the fight, keeping his WBC super middleweight title and his undefeated record, and sending Taylor's career back into limbo.
Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KO) lost his third fight in his last four outings, and it came with the same questions that were raised against Kelly Pavlik. Taylor started hot and was downright dominating Froch for much of the fight. I had him up 106-102 going into the final round -- Taylor had used a piston-like jab and some good power shots, decking Froch in the third round. It was the first time Froch has been down in his pro career, and he recovered quite well. But the difference in handspeed, athleticism and skill was clear much of the fight.
However, in the middle rounds, Taylor seemed to slow down just a bit. He was still winning the fight, but in the final few rounds, it was Froch who took over. In the 12th round, he attacked Taylor with a ferocity, clearly feeling he needed the KO. He turned out to be right: Two of the official judges had it 106-102 Taylor, same as I did.
Froch floored Taylor, who tried desperately to hang on. With 16 seconds left, the referee jumped in to stop Froch's massive assault -- it was the right call. Even though there was almost no time left in the fight, Taylor couldn't be allowed to be pounded on anymore.
For Froch (25-0, 20 KO) this is a huge win. It's by far the biggest win of his career, and completely legitimizes him. Yes, he's a little slow of hand and a bit basic overall, but he's got a granite chin and legit power. He's also got a lot of heart. He will eventually run into someone good that beats him. Taylor could beat him in a rematch. But he didn't have enough to go all 12 full rounds with Froch tonight.
On the undercard, Allan Green waxed Carlos De Leon Jr. with four second round knockdowns, which led to a stoppage. Green will likely fight IBF super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute this summer. Should be a good one, though I think Bute outboxes him with relative ease.
In Puerto Rico, Juan Manuel Lopez beat the hell out of Gerry Penalosa for nine rounds before Freddie Roach stopped the fight on behalf of Penalosa. Lopez (25-0, 23 KO) was completely dominant, breaking down Penalosa's defense and just wailing on him for most of the fight. Penalosa went out a warrior, falling to 54-7-2 (36 KO). It may well be his final fight, but who knows? He turned it into a firefight and it didn't work out, but he sure as hell went at it hard.
On the HBO undercard, Willy Blain (20-1, 3 KO) messed up his right hand and was stopped by the referee against Lamont Peterson (27-0, 12 KO). It proves little that we didn't already know about Peterson, and I hope he steps up sooner rather than later.
In Germany, Felix Sturm predictably stopped Koji Sato after seven one-sided rounds. Sato clearly had no business in the ring with Sturm, who seemed like he was performing at about 80% of his full power. The fight was everything we thought it would be.
We now fully gear up for the final days leading up to the huge showdown between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao next Saturday. It's gonna be a big, big week, so stay tuned.