Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carl Froch Wants You to Know His Name

Carl Froch has looked at himself in the mirror on the wall and he believes he's the fairest of them all.

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. - Up until a few months ago, Jermain Taylor, the former middleweight champion of the world, said he had no idea who Carl Froch even was.

“I tell people all the time here, in the United States, that I'm fighting a guy named Carl Froch and everybody say, 'Who?' You know, it's kind of embarrassing 'cause you know, who is he? Who has he beat? asks a perplexed Taylor.

For the uninitiated, Froch (pronounced like Scotch) is the undefeated WBC Super middleweight titlist and on Saturday night in the wilds of the Connecticut wilderness at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods he and Taylor will clash in one of this year's most anticipated bouts.

“He knows who I am, he's just trying to be a little bit cheap,” responds Froch, an articulate and thoughtful fighter if there ever was one. “I don't mind, because that's one of the reasons why I wanted to come over to America, for the people to get a look at this white kid from Nottingham, England. People think I'm a bit skinny and a bit weak, a bit slow and whatever else they've been saying about me.”

The tall, angular Froch claims he doesn't worry much about what Jermain Taylor has to say about him. The fight, which the promoters have dubbed “Continents Collide” pits a fighter on the way up in Froch, versus a fighter trying to make his way back up, in Taylor.

Froch is hoping that his gamble pays off and that he wins the biggest fight of his life.

Whatever the case, Froch, who speaks quickly and sharply with a heavy British accent, seems to have a great degree of insight into who he thinks Jermain Taylor is. In talking to him it's obvious that he has spent a great deal of time analyzing Taylor from both a physical and psychological standpoint. Froch also seems to have spent some time looking inward as much as any fighter you will ever encounter. He is intense, self-assured, confident and his voice never wavers when he talks about Taylor and what he sees happening on Saturday night.

“Coming off his losses to Kelly Pavlik, I think he's got some mental issues, that mental scar, that chink in his armor,” explains Froch who just wrapped up the last few weeks of his training in Niagara Falls, Ontario. “When I start landing my big right hand over the top, my big uppercut and start pushing him back and looking him in the eye and telling him to come to war for twelve rounds I can see me getting him out of there, I really can. I don't think this fight's gonna' go the distance.”

It will be a tall order for Froch to fill considering that Taylor (28-2-1, 17 knockouts) has faced a virtual “Who's Who?” of the middleweight division and has only been stopped once. But Froch perceives Taylor to be somewhat damaged goods and makes several perfectly valid and logical assertions as to why he has a great chance at victory.

“I’m the bigger, stronger man,” says the nonchalant Froch.

“Jermain Taylor has not stopped anybody for four years. But don’t get me wrong, he’s a good fighter. He thinks he’s fast, but I don’t know what he thinks his speed is going to do to me. I’ve fought fast fighters. I’m not giving him any disrespect or trying to be cheeky. I’m in no way cocky. I’m quite a very level headed man. I’m just very confident and believe in myself. Fact of the matter is, he’s fought most of his career at middleweight and I’m a big, strong super middleweight. And that can very well be the deciding factor. When I start connecting with the right hand on the jaw section there will probably be some damage done.”

In his first fight at 168 pounds, Jermain Taylor (right) won a unanimous decision over Jeff Lacy in Nov. 2008.

Froch will bring an undefeated record of 24-0, with 19 knockouts into the ring with him. He is a rangy, somewhat unorthodox fighter with good speed, quick reflexes and a chin that has held him up and kept him off the canvas for his entire amateur and professional career. His nickname is “The Cobra” and he has a tendency to lash out with left hooks and overhand rights from all directions. He keeps his hands low, particularly his left, and some think if Taylor is to win he will have to come over the top of that low left hand with his own right.

But Froch is currently riding a wave of confidence after having won the vacant WBC title against Canada's Jean Pascal back in December. And in a strange twist, Froch and his team have recruited Pascal as a sparring partner in preparation for this fight. It's a somewhat bold move, but Froch is a bold fighter with bold ideas and he perceives Pascal as the perfect muse to get him ready for Taylor.

“This has been a great experience for me,” admits Froch of Pascal's role. “He's got a quick jab, he's a busy puncher with speed and the sparring has been very good.”

Froch claims that he and Pascal share no ill feelings toward one another and have let bygones be bygones. He also noted that their gym work had been productive and entertaining and it's all simply a lead up to what will, after all is said and done, simply be a fight between two men.

The Cobra is ready for the boxing spotlight here in the United States.

“On the night, there's a boxing ring, two fighters and a referee and that is it,” says Froch in a voice barely above a whisper. “We've got lights and cameras but no one's in the ring with us. It's a very, very lonely place the boxing ring. And he knows on the 25th of April it will be me versus him, 'Mano-a-mano' just like a good, old-fashioned scrap on the cobbles between two men, two warriors.”

While both Froch and Taylor have done a lot of talking over the past several weeks, much has also been made of the fact that Froch is the slight betting underdog, the fight is not being televised live in Great Britain and that he has had to come to the United States to make the first defense of his belt. But Froch takes it all in stride.

“Look, I'm traveling over to Jermain Taylor's backyard to fight him and that's how serious I am about the sport and that's how serious I am about becoming a big name and a world-class superstar,” says Froch who definitely possesses an “Eye of the Tiger” mindset. “And that's what this fight can do for me. They'll find out who Carl Froch is on the 25th of April and from then on I'm going to be a massive superstar. I'm looking forward to it, to establishing myself on American soil and I can't wait to shut a few mouths up.”

And if Carl Froch has his way, after Saturday night, you'll know his name.

April 2009

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