First and foremost let’s get this most important matter out of the way.
Once a man’s tenure on this solid plane finishes, often all he leaves behind is his name, so it behooves us keyboard tappers to spell it right, and say it right when given the chance.
So, for the record, the name of the man who is putting his WBC 168 pound crown on the line against Jermain Taylor on April 25 at Foxwoods in Connecticut is Carl Froch, and the last name is pronounced as you would “crotch.”
There’s no shame in not knowing that, TSS U students and profs who weren’t sure how you referred to the 24-0 Brit with 19 KOs who has been stalking Joe Calzaghe for the last two years and is now talking mad smack coming into his most high profile bout of a seven-year pro career. After all, Taylor himself admitted he had not a clue who Froch was until his promoter Lou DiBella clued him in that Froch has the WBC crown, and Taylor had been anointed as a mandatory challenger.
On a Tuesday conference call to hype the bout, it was clear that Froch, age 31, suffers from zero self esteem issues because the former middleweight champion Taylor and many US fight fans have no clue who he is.
“I will establish myself early against Taylor, let him know that I’m there, land my big, heavy shots and as regularly happens, he will fade and fall apart in front of my very eyes,” Froch said on the call, which also featured his promoter, Mick Hennessy, and DiBella.
Taylor (age 30; 28-2-1, with 17 KOs, just one in his last nine bouts) said that he has trained harder for this bout, against the relative unknown, than he has in recent memory, and that he would be the one to teach Froch how to lose. “I’m not worried about his strength, I’m gonna go in there and box the hell out of him,” said the Arkansas resident, who will be fighting for the second time in the 168 pound class. He won a UD over Jeff Lacy in November. Promoter DiBella said that Froch was the only opponent Taylor had expressly asked him to target, for that WBC belt.
Froch was asked by TSS if he considers Taylor the best foe has taken on to this point; a quick scan of his Boxrec shows Jean Pascal as the most marquee name. “That’s definitely possible,” Froch said. “You could say he’s the biggest to this point.” He built up Pascal’s cred, and pointed out that he beat Robin Reid. “I disposed of them, dismissed them like they were not there. In my career, I’ve not been in any trouble.”
Froch didn’t come off as stupid-cocky, or annoying-cocky. Not sure how he pulled that off, as he talks as if his resume is littered with the names that dot Taylors’: Hopkins, Lacy, Spinks, Winky Wright. Taylor pointed out that Froch’s confidence level makes sense, considering the caliber of foe he’d met.
The call never deteriorated into a mudslinging fest, despite Froch’s arguably overly grandiose perception of himself.
Oddsmakers have installed Taylor as a favorite, but not overwhelmingly so, so it is not as if Froch is talking like a psych patient off his Thorazine. “I take confidence in the odds,” Froch said. “They’re close to even. The odds are better than I thought they would be.”
The Brit was asked to explain how it is that he’s never “been in a tough fight” when he’s been taken the 12-round distance by Pascal, Matt Barney and Chalres Adamu. He said that in every bout, he knew that eventually he’d pull away and prevail. He described his style, for those of us that haven’t seen much or any of him, as rangy, fast (though Taylor said he thinks he’s pretty slow), able to fight inside or out, ready to adapt to Plan B if Plan A isn’t working. His last bout with Pascal, he said, could’ve been fought in an elevator, there was so much infighting. Taylor said he’s been watching tapes of Froch, and cited the Brit as being strong.
Cocky Frochy came out again when he said he struggles to find particular strengths in Taylor’s arsenal. He pondered and found one. “He’s very experienced at the top level,” he said after a pause. “But he’s not been dominating at that level so I’m not worried.” He said wins over Hopkins came over a weight depleted, “old” Hopkins.
“He’s a cocky fighter, I love that,” Taylor responded. “I plan on breaking all that down. And he said Hopkins was not in his prime. Hopkins is still kicking butt.”
Froch, who thinks Taylor may have stamina issues, smartly pointed out that we have to go waaay back, to 2005 and Daniel Edouard, for the last time Taylor notched a stoppage. Taylor came back, and said, “He’s not been on the floor as an amateur or pro, there’s a first time for everything. He gets hit a lot, he stands right there.”
Froch said a win over Taylor would help make his case to fight Calzaghe, but he doesn’t think the Welshman will be back. “I think he’s enjoying his alcoholic beverages, putting his feet up.” If Joe C were to come back, Froch said, he thinks it would be for a mega money match against a Hopkins, rather than against a tough, lesser known scrapper like Froch.
Cocky Frochy scored again when he corrected Lou DiBella, who protested that no one really looked good against a prime Spinks or Ouma. The Brit stated that Zab Judah looked pretty decent when he kayoed Spinks in 2005. That was one of several occasions where a response or rejoinder were hard to come by, because Froch’s reasoning was so sound.
Then again, conference calls and pre fight posturing are a minute factor going into a fight. Very rarely is a fight won before the bell rings, and I don’t recall when a conference call has ever truly influenced a bout. Score the call for Cocky Frochy, then. But there is no debate, he has fought no one of Taylor’s caliber, and even if Taylor hasn’t hit the high mark set for him coming out of the 2004 Olympics, he is unquestionably a world class pugilist, who should be quick enough, and should possess enough pure boxing ability to win enough rounds to take the belt. Still, during that call I found myself inching closer to Froch as I sized up the class. His certainty in himself seems unforced, not at all a front meant to bolster his own shallow pool of confidence.