Saturday, October 17, 2009

A True Brit with True Grit

WBC super middleweight champion Carl "The Cobra" Froch puts it all on the line tonight when he faces Andre Dirrell in Nottingham, England.

Spend a little time around Carl Froch and there’s a couple things you notice right off the bat.

Number one is that he changes his facial expression about as often as Halley's Comet makes a pass by the earth. Number two is that when the time comes; there is no other fighter on the planet that is as serious about who he is and what he does.

Tonight, inside the friendly confines of the Trent Arena in his hometown of Nottingham, England, the undefeated WBC super middleweight champion will face off against Andre Dirrell as part of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament.

For Froch, tonight will be another opportunity for him to prove that what he has been saying all along is really true.

"I'm the best 168-pound fighter in the world," he says. "Andre Dirrell is in trouble, he really is. He's coming over to my backyard, in front of my fans to try and take my title off me. And not only that, he’s doing it with a bit of 'cheek' as well. He’s showing a bit of disrespect and he's not respecting a true champion. So, he's got me a little wound up. Not too wound up, because that will affect my performance in a negative way, but when I get the chance, I'm going to absolutely drill a big right hand straight onto the chin of Andre Dirrell."

Coming off the most impressive performance of his fistic career, a last second stoppage win over Jermain Taylor in April, Froch is riding the crest of a wave of confidence. Entering the championship rounds in the fight against Taylor, he was hopelessly behind on the scorecards. But with only 14 seconds remaining in the twelfth and final round, Froch managed to pry his way free from the jaws of a certain defeat to retain his championship.

Froch is one of the hardest workers in the game. He diligently prepares himself mentally as well as physically.

For those that were there (I was) it was one of the most unbelievable and thrilling endings to a prizefight as one could ever be privileged to witness. Jermain Taylor's fans were standing with their mouths agape at the stunning reversal of fortune. Froch's fans, many which journeyed all the way from England, were overcome with emotion and their minds could barely process what their eyes had just seen. Quite simply, it was one of the most astonishing turnarounds in boxing history.

The sensational victory over Taylor transformed Froch into an instant celebrity in Great Britain and it elevated his status in the sport of boxing. He gained a large measure of credibility and as result he is favored to finish highly in the tournament and he is the betting favorite to beat Dirrell to advance onward.

"It's all about me winning these fights," explains Froch. "You know, securing my legacy. Securing not just my world championship status but my pound-for-pound status, which means any weight, any division. That will put me up there with the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones and some of the all-time greats."

Froch certainly has a single-mindedness to his approach that is rarely seen in this day and age of boxing pacifism. Froch thinks about the knockout, thinks about doing maximum damage and he never stops plowing ahead in an attempt to land the big blow. It’s as though he’s a programmed robot that begins marching forward when the bell rings and only stops when his opponent is knocked senseless or the final bell sounds.

"I'm hoping to put a full whooping on Andre Dirrell, the cheeky American," says a serious Froch. "I really am. I can't wait to get my hands on him and land this big right hand on him – on the jaw section. I want to render him unconscious and that's what I'm thinking of doing. I want to put some serious, heavy artillery his way."

Former middleweight contender Robert McCracken has trained Froch since he was an amateur. He has seen first hand the type of individual that Carl Froch is and he seems to have an intimate knowledge of what makes his man tick.

"He's like an old-time fighter. He doesn't fight conventionally, you know, with the left and right," McCracken said. "He's got loads of ability and he's a heavy, heavy puncher. With his reach and his athleticism, I mean, you 'd have to be blind not to see when he was an amateur you could make something really special out of him. He's always had the potential, but it was just making him believe in himself."

Over the past seven and a half years, McCracken and Froch have developed into a formidable force. Froch's record is an impressive 25-0, 20 KOs and he is a fighter that can go the distance and not tire. His determination is such that many foes crack under his unrelenting pressure and clubbing punches.

"I'm going to be gunning for him and I'm going to be hitting him – hard – 'round the body early on," says Froch of his plan of attack. "When he starts to sit down and slow down, 'cause he'll be fast and quick and nervous and running around the ring early on, but after round four or five all of that will slow down. And once he starts slowing down and sitting in front of me and I draw him into a fight, that's when we'll find out what he's got."

As for McCracken's thoughts on Froch, his mind is made up on what he's got in his boxer.

"Carl Froch is a special fighter," he explains. "He is the only fighter I have ever come across that you just know he is going to win. Be it sparring, be it a fight, you know he is going to get 'em. It can be the last round, it can be the first round. He is a phenomenal puncher. When I was a kid I used to watch the Tommy Hearns fights and stuff like that. This kid punches every bit as hard as any of 'em. His knockout record is phenomenal. He is a phenomenal puncher and he is a phenomenal athlete. And I tell the press this all of the time 'We won't get a Carl Froch again for a long, long time.' He is a special fighter."

And that's Carl Froch - a true Brit with true grit.

October 2009

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