As most boxing fans know, Carl Froch 33-2 (24) recently vacated his IBF Super middleweight title and is nearing the end of his career. Froch has had a stellar career and holds wins over notables like Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson, Lucian Bute, and George Groves. Yes, his record shows that he lost once to Kessler, but in reality only Andre Ward outclassed him in the ring. And there’s no shame in losing to Ward, who just may be the best pound for pound fighter in professional boxing today.
With the Nottinghamer Froch’s near future plans being uncertain, there’s noise that former middleweight and light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins 55-7-2 (32) would gladly meet him in his farewell bout. And make no mistake about it, Hopkins would like to leave boxing with a win over a name fighter, especially after losing his light heavyweight title and being shut out versus Sergey Kovalev in his last fight. However, Froch said the prospect of fighting Hopkins didn’t excite him.
“Because he is 50 and a legend I don’t want to fight him because it is almost a lose-lose situation,” Froch told BBC East Midlands.
“I am expected to beat him. If I win people will say ‘he beat a 50-year-old man’. “If I lose people would say ‘what’s going on? You’ve ruined your legacy. You finished your career on a loss against an old man’ – so that would be traumatic.
And you know what, there’s some truth to what Froch says above…but of course Hopkins doesn’t want to hear that because Froch changed his mind two days after he said he’d like to fight Hopkins at home. He changed his mind after thinking about the risk-reward being out of balance.
“Somebody got in his ear and said ‘don’t underestimate Bernard, because Bernard is always good at redeeming himself after a loss and coming back strong.”
Hopkins said: “How could he ruin his legacy losing to a Bernard Hopkins? So that means Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad and all these guys ruined their legacy? The media would kill the fight if it didn’t have no merit to it. That is so weak.”
Well, Trinidad didn’t blow his legacy losing to Hopkins, but it definitely took a sizable hit, and Hopkins was only 37 years old then. So you can see why Froch has trepidation about meeting Hopkins, who despite losing the most lopsided fight of his career versus Kovalev, is still a dangerous opponent to any world class fighter and title holder.
That being said, if Froch could get Hopkins to travel to England for the fight, it might be tough for Carl to walk away from an opportunity to beat Hopkins and retire him in front of his hometown fans. And if you’re Froch you have to look at Hopkins and say to yourself, “the guy throws forty punches a round on a good day, he hasn’t won by stoppage in over a decade…..and he’ll have to half beat me to death in order to get a decision over me in England.” And when you break it down like that, fighting Hopkins doesn’t look so daunting if you’re Froch does it? Beating Hopkins would be a great way for Froch to leave boxing after a terrific career, and fighting Hopkins makes more sense for him than fighting Gennady Golovkin or Andre Ward again. Froch has navigated his career terrifically choosing the right fights at the right time and is one of the rare champs who made boxing work for him.
Stylistically, Froch has always been an active fighter who works the whole round, and those are the fighters who have bothered the post 40 year old Hopkins the most. So there’s another reason why fighting Hopkins may not be such a risk for Froch to take. I don’t think he’s dumb enough to be tricked into fighting at Bernard’s pace. Hopkins might be able to occasionally make Froch look amateurish, but everyone does that to him. It hasn’t kept him from winning. Froch is not a stupid guy, and he has a good understanding of his own limitations. But, on home turf, he comes into the Hopkins fight with every conceivable advantage.
Actually, the biggest thing for Froch to fear is the fact that Hopkins was soundly defeated the last time he fought. No, he wasn’t embarrassed by Kovalev, but how many times has Hopkins stood up at the post fight press conference after a loss and lauded the guy who beat him and said give him his just due, and don’t hold my age against him?
Also, Hopkins doesn’t want to retire off a loss and he doesn’t want to beat a no-name just to say he won at 50 years old. So you better believe that he’ll kill himself getting ready for what he believes will be his swan song bout. And it must be noted that if Bernard is asking for Froch, then you know he sees something and thinks there’s a sure path to victory. But he has guessed wrong before…
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com