Carl Froch has emerged as one of the best fighters of his generation, a blue collar sort on paper who is really a rich man in the ring. He's taken on all comers, been in the ring with the best opponents he can find, and still has at least a few more fights to give after a great career.
Now 37, Froch does figure to be winding down, though. So let's talk about where he's been and where he might end up.
- Lucian Bute (2012-05-26)
- Jean Pascal (2008-12-06)
- Mikkel Kessler (2013-05-25)
- George Groves (2014-05-31)
- Arthur Abraham (2010-11-27)
Froch has been fighting pretty much only top-level opposition since his 2008 win over Pascal, save for a stay-busy fight with Yusaf Mack in 2012, and the order of his best wins depends on your perspective, really, but I think the top two are definitely the top two.
I give the edge to Froch's 2012 wipeout of Bute because the Romanian-Canadian had been That Other Guy at super middleweight, usually ranked in the top two with Andre Ward in the recent years during and after the Super Six, which Bute saw unfold from the outside while he picked apart the likes of Brian Magee, Jesse Brinkley, Edison Miranda, Librado Andrade, and Jean-Paul Mendy.
Bute was positively destroyed by Froch, who seemed to intimidate him early, once Bute felt a bit of Froch's power, and realized that this was a different animal. Lucian just couldn't handle Carl Froch, and it may have taken his career's spirit from him, too. He's fought twice since then, but was unimpressive against Denis Grachev, and lost wide to Jean Pascal in those two fights. Bute is now an also-ran light heavyweight, quite a comedown from his status as elite super middleweight just a couple fights ago. Froch did that.
Froch-Pascal is still Froch's best fight, I think, and it was the bout that catapulted him toward the world stage and into the Super Six. The two went toe-to-toe in one of the best fights of 2008, with Froch emerging victorious. It was the sort of fight where both guys came out looking better -- Froch proved he was more than a domestic level fighter, and Pascal proved he could war with a guy who wouldn't go away.
It took Froch years more to shake a lot of the tags that hounded him early, notably that he was too slow, and that his defense wouldn't be good enough at the higher levels. But all these years later, he's still going very strong. His 2013 win over Kessler in their rematch was a damn good one, as Kessler can still fight himself, and Froch handling the Groves rematch after the mild controversy of their first bout was another true statement in a career that has become full of them. Whenever Froch is doubted, he rises to the occasion.
Rounding out my top five is his 2010 win over Arthur Abraham. Say what you will about King Arthur, but he's still in the mix at 168 and holds a world title here in 2014. Sure, he's not the destroyer he was once thought to be when he was fighting a bunch of mid-tier middleweights, but he's no scrub, and Froch completely neutralized him all night long.
ALSO WORTH NOTING:
- Froch's 2009 win over Jermain Taylor was thrilling, movie-like stuff, and it established him with the American audience, as it was his first Showtime main event of any note. (He had fought Albert Rybacki on the network previously.)
- Taking timing into account, one could argue for Froch's wins over Brian Magee (2006) and Robin Reid (2007). Those were both good, tough professional fighters that Froch beat on the domestic level.
Both of Froch's losses were of the quality variety, and both came in the Super Six. In April 2010, he was beaten in a close battle by Mikkel Kessler, a fight that might have gone the other way had it been in the UK or on neutral ground rather than Denmark. I thought Kessler just deserved the win in that one, but it was a terrific fight, highly competitive, and very high level. At that time, Kessler had only ever lost to Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward, who may arguably be the two best 168-pound fighters ever, and Froch was right there with him from start to finish.
Froch's second loss came in the Super Six final to Ward, a fight where Ward simply proved to be the better fighter. If I had to make a pick for best super middleweight ever, honestly, I think I'd go with Ward. That's with all due respect to the likes of Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins, and even the brief stint that Roy Jones Jr had there in his prime. And one of the reasons I say that is that Ward handily beat Carl Froch and Kessler, two of the other all-time elites at the weight.
Up Next and Beyond
Froch will be returning on January 31, 2015, when he headlines at the O2 Arena in London. Currently, it appears the plan is to fight three times next year and call it a career, with one fight in London, one at home in Nottingham, and one in Las Vegas, which has been his dream for the last few years. It's really the one thing he hasn't done yet.
James DeGale is currently the frontrunner, and a solid contender at 168 who could give Froch -- or anyone, really -- some stylistic problems. A third fight with Kessler has also been mentioned, but that could take place next summer, too, in Nottingham, if Kessler is agreeable to the idea. The DeGale and Kessler ideas could switch dates, too.
As for the Vegas fight, it's likely that Froch would target Julio Cesar Chavez Jr or Gennady Golovkin. Both could bring great interest and good money. I mean, can you imagine if they both win a couple more fights, and Golovkin decides to move up and face Froch at 168 pounds in November 2015 or so? How excited would you be to see that fight?
What has struck me most about Carl Froch over his career is that, yes, he's arrogant, he's braggadocious, he's boastful, he loves to hear himself talk, but here's the thing: he has backed it up every step of the way. He was supposed to be too slow. Well, he's not. He was supposed to be too basic of a fighter. He's not. He wasn't supposed to be a big enough puncher, good enough on his feet, or good enough defensively. Wrong, wrong, wrong. All of it has been proven wrong, over and over, and against high-level opposition. He has not ducked a fight, he has not run from a fight. He meets challenges head-on. And when he's faced adversity in the ring, he's responded then, too, even if ultimately coming out on the losing end.
With Andre Ward shelved in a contractual dispute for the time being, the 37-year-old Froch is the best super middleweight in the sport today. It's still a good division with plenty of talented fighters, but outside of Ward, he is a clear cut above the rest.
Where do you think Froch stands all-time in the super middleweight division, and how much more can he accomplish?