Froch vs Calzaghe: The irritant which wont go away

Until Saturday Joe Calzaghe was in a privileged position, where no matter who undermined his legacy, the reality was there was no one good enough to fight him.

That is no disrespect to the super middleweight division, which is rife with talent and one of the most compelling weight classes at the moment. Mikkel Kessler is a formidable fighter, and there is a strong cluster of fighters below him in the ranks - Bute, Andrade and Balzsay being a few. There was talk of Kelly Pavlik moving up, but his status plummeted when Bernard Hopkins ruthlessly took his 0 and his spirit in a dominant subjection.

But Calzaghe was unique. He had reached a pinnacle in his career where, after reigning at the top for 11 years, beating just about every type of fighter and style that can be produced, fights that could motivate him were becoming scarce.

He defended his title against brawlers, bangers, undefeated prospects and finished by beating two hall-of-fame legends. His legacy was complete and taunts from the domestic champion Carl Froch were laughable. He had far bigger fish to fry, and Froch did not belong in the ring with him.

That has changed. Froch heroicly took the WBC belt from Jean Pascal in a scintillating slugfest, and announced himself to the world stage. But no one could predict the impact he would make in his first defence of title against the man who had twice beaten Hopkins.

He defied many critics who thought Taylor's pedigree, speed and skill would be too much for the rugged Brit. Make no mistake, Froch's performance was flawed, he was letting the fight slip away from him, sticking his chin out and taking heavy shots from Taylor. He was duly dumped on the canvas for the first time in his career. But his response to this adversity, in Taylor's own back yard, was phenomenal. He imposed his will on Taylor and knocked him out seconds before the fight would have gone to the judges, and his title would have inevitably gone back into the hands of Taylor.

In beating a 'marquee fighter', Froch has elevated himself into a league of fighters which Calzaghe can't dismiss. The Cobra demands, and now commands respect in the boxing world. Calzaghe is retired. But there will be voices within him, telling him to fight Froch. To relieve this irritant. He can ignore the voices, but after Froch's fighting talk following his KO of Taylor, the voices will be louder than ever. His first thought after the gruelling defence of his WBC crown was - "look at me now Joe, i'm everything I said i'd be, now come and fight me and prove your not afraid of me." His attitude was refreshing: "Come on Joe" he said. "It's just a fight, what's the worst that can happen?" A cunning approach to the subject, a new ploy to coax the Welshman out of "pipe and slippers" lifestyle and I have no doubt the message got through. Calzaghe is a proud man and very conscious of his legacy and status; he does not want any questions hanging over his achievements. Froch is a lingering question, which may have arrived just too late for the Cobra to get his wishes, but would it be a good fight for Froch?

I think not. Calzaghe's work rate would give him nightmares and the Welshman, unlike Taylor, has the heart of a lion. He is not deterred by power, as he proved against Kessler, who landed some fierce blows on him. His mesmeric, ballerina-like footwork, his range and rapid hand speed have surprised and bewildered every opponent he has faced. Unlike Taylor, Calzaghe would be able to execute a game plan to perfection, with supreme confidence in his ability to do so.

Froch keeps his hands low, gets too involved at times and neglects his defence. He relies on his heart, heavy hands, strong chin and precision counter-punching. He is vulnerable to a big puncher and we saw against Taylor that if he takes enough heavy shots he can go down. Taylor decided not to jump on Froch and in fact, was the perfect gentleman as he gave him space and time to recover his legs.Calzaghe would not KO Froch, but he would land a multitude of clean shots on him and enough to back-up the Nottingham banger.

What is exciting is that Froch underperformed against Taylor and there is more to come from him. According to him, his slow start was down to a rushed warm-up and nerves of the big occasion, his entry into the elite class. Froch can be a great, dominant world champion, but there is one man who has the power to change that and it's the sublime, retired Joe Calzaghe. Beware the Welshman.



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