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Between a Froch and a hard place

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Four time super middleweight world champion Carl Froch stands at the crossroads of his heralded career, with one road leading to retirement and the other to a final fight which could threaten his legacy.

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Nottingham native Carl Froch last entered the ring over a year ago, on May 31, 2014, in front of 80,000 fans in Wembley Stadium. The event was a much hyped WBA and IBF world title rematch with George Groves, who six months earlier had engaged Froch in a titanic clash in Manchester. On that night, Froch had looked vulnerable from the beginning, evidenced by the right hand Groves landed in the opening round, which sent the reigning champion crashing to the canvas. There were several additional damaging moments in the fight for Froch, until the champion rallied to land a series of blows on the challenger Groves, causing referee Howard Foster to step in and halt the contest -- prematurely, in the eyes of thousands of observers.

The rematch was a cagey contest for the first seven rounds with both fighters seemingly unwilling to take the necessary risks to force their dominance. This changed in the eighth round, however, with a monstrous right hand from Froch concluding the contest.

A subsequent title defense against mandatory challenger and fellow countryman James DeGale beckoned, but Froch ruled that out, claiming a fight with the Olympic Gold medalist neither interested nor motivated him. His IBF title was thus vacated, with DeGale recently winning a hard fought decision over previous Froch foe Andre Dirrell to claim the strap. Froch claimed that what he really yearned for was a fight in Las Vegas, to see his name up in those iconic Vegas lights for the very first time, something recent iconic British fighters Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe have both experienced. A fight with Julio Caesar Chavez Jr was provisionally agreed to, but an injury suffered by Froch in training delayed a contract being signed, and a crushing defeat inflicted on Chavez Jr by Andrzej Fonfara buried the potential match up.

By his own admission in the twilight of his career, Froch now stands at a crossroads. The fight with Groves is estimated to have pocketed him £8 million, and as such he is financially secure. In addition, he has said many times that the Groves rematch was a fairytale ending to his career, should he wish to welcome retirement. Froch has also become a frequent face as a boxing analyst on Sky Sports and seems to enjoy the role, so undoubtedly has options outside of fighting.

But the inner voice inside him which encourages one final battle would seem to have not yet gone silent. When asked recently about a fight with DeGale who now holds his IBF title, Froch stated, "I would love nothing more than to show the British public what I would do against someone like James DeGale." A recent exchange on social media between Froch and former undefeated world champion Joe Calzaghe, who claimed DeGale would "whoop" Froch has also seemed to fuel the aging warrior's desire to return to the squared circle.

The other option should Froch commit to one final fight, is an even more dangerous encounter with the undefeated Kazakhstan wrecking ball: Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin campaigns at middleweight, but his camp have expressed an interest to step up a weight class to facilitate a fight with Froch.

GGG, an Olympic silver medalist and a fearsome puncher, boasts a perfect 33-0 record with 30 knockouts. Froch has claimed that a potential fight with GGG excites him, stating in a recent interview that, "I don't think many people would give me a chance and you know what, that excites me. I like that. Call me stupid, call me brave, call me what you want...that's a fight I can win."

The reality is that a fight with either DeGale or Golovkin would represent an inflection point for Carl Froch. Although his resilience cannot be questioned, the cold facts present a man who will turn 38 next month and will have been inactive for over a year. His previous two bouts with Groves underlined flaws which have always existed in his skill set, but have almost always been compensated for with incredible fitness levels, toughness, and underrated boxing ability. Only Carl Froch truly knows if he still has the desire to punish his body with a grueling training camp for one final battle, and whether he still believes he has what it takes to defeat an opponent of the caliber of DeGale or GGG.

Carl Froch will likely make a decision on his future in the next few weeks. The sensible option is retirement. But for a throwback fighter like Froch, it's likely that too many questions remain unanswered, questions he knows may haunt him in years to come if not addressed correctly. Should he choose to continue, there is no Chavez Jr easy payday available, and deep down Froch knows that a final soiree with DeGale or Golovkin will put his reputation and legacy at risk. The Nottingham man is truly stuck between a rock and a hard place, but the smart money is on Froch, as he has always done throughout his career, not taking the easy option.