Floyd Mayweather Jr won't be boxing's only star returning to the ring on May 5, as super middleweight Carl Froch is also tentatively set to return on that date, with a fight at home in Nottingham against either Librado Andrade or Noe Gonzalez.
"I don't want a 'gimme' at this stage of my career even though I've earned one. I don't want some bum who nobody has heard of. My fans have spent big dollar on supporting me from Herning to Atlantic City and all the stop-off's in between. They don't deserve a patsy and I won't fight one. ... Pavlik's name was kicked about. But it's possibly Librado Andrade or the WBC number 3, a lad called Noe Gonzalez. I don't know too much about the latter, but he's got the WBC silver belt or whatever and has about 20 knockouts."
Neither Andrade nor Gonzalez are likely to get anyone all in a huff either way, as this is a pure homecoming fight for Froch (28-2, 20 KO) coming off of the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Froch lost the final bout of the tournament to Andre Ward on December 17, and hasn't had a fight in England since October 2009, when he beat Andre Dirrell in Nottingham, a decision some felt was of the hometown flavor.
Andrade (30-4, 23 KO) is still a hard-charging fighter like always, but he's definitely lost a step or two and he didn't have any steps to lose from his peak in the first place, his peak being the controversial first of two fights he had with Lucian Bute.
But that was over three years ago. Since then, Andrade has plateaued to put it nicely. He lost his rematch with Bute via fourth round knockout in November 2009, and after fighting once in 2010 (he beat Eric Lucas), he fought twice last year, going 1-1. In May he lost to Aaron Pryor Jr in a competitive fight that could have gone his way on the cards but didn't, and in August he ran over club fighter Matt O'Brien with relative ease.
Andrade, 33, will never make for a true "gimme" fight, but he also doesn't figure to be any serious challenge for Froch, who is just on another level. Froch has been called slow before, but he looks like Floyd Mayweather compared to Librado Andrade, who is one of the worst good boxers in recent memory. Andrade has no real natural ability at all, to be honest, and has made a career on the strength of that first fight with Bute, his toughness, and the fact that he's pretty much always fun to watch.
Actually, Andrade has a lot in common with Edison Miranda. Both had controversial losses in major title fights (Bute for Andrade, Arthur Abraham for Miranda), and later were knocked out in the fourth round when they got a rematch. Both make good TV fights and thus will always be up for TV spots. Both are tough. Both can punch. They're likeable, but in very different ways -- Andrade is a genuinely nice guy and one of the classiest fighters in the sport today, while Miranda is a comical trash talker who will always try to back it up, and I guess that makes him at least somewhat likeable.
As for Noe Gonzalez (28-1, 20 KO), I don't know a ton more about him than Froch does, but I do know a few things:
- He faced Felix Sturm back in 2007 and lost clearly, but likely wasn't ready for that type of fight at the time. Kind of a typical Sturm opponent from that time period. That's the only time I've seen him fight, I believe.
- He's mostly fought at middleweight.
- He does hold the WBC silver belt, but actually won it at 162 pounds, then defended it at 162 pounds. In other words, he doesn't appear to be a full-fledged super middleweight.
- The WBC having him ranked No. 3 is silly, but they did give him that stupid silver belt.
Gonzalez, 32, is listed at 5'11". Chances are he'd be no challenge for Froch, but again, Andrade wouldn't be much of one either, and this fight won't be about making Froch work hard for a win.
He's trying to line himself up for a title shot. Beating Gonzalez would put him in line for a Ward rematch, or for a vacant title fight if Ward abandoned the WBC belt. Beating Andrade would probably give him a shot at Lucian Bute, as the IBF would likely make it some kind of eliminator fight, as they have two top spots to fill in their rankings. Adonis Stevenson will face Jesus Gonzales for the No. 2 spot on February 18.