No one among the 2,286 announced at Phillips Ballroom in Boardwalk Hall dug Froch's performance more than his missus, Rachel Cordingley. (Hogan)
The record books won't go into enough detail to tell the true story of the Super Six semifinal scrap pitting Carl Froch against Glen Johnson in Atlantic City on Saturday night. The record's will read "W Froch UD12," but Johnson should get more credit than that. The 42-year-old made Froch work harder than he envisioned, and while he didn't pull a Hopkins, he certainly impressed the heck out of anyone who watched. The judges saw it 117-111 (John Stewart), 116-112 (Mark Green), 114-114 (Nobuaki Uratani), a majority decision, for Froch. There was more than a smattering of boos in the building when Jimmy Lennon said ..."and still.." with Froch's hand getting raised, as watchers had watched a tussle in which Johnson landed a large helping of clean blows.
I liked the 116-112 card. In press row, USA Today's Mike Coppinger saw it 118-110, as did Keith Idec of New Jersey, while England's Ron Lewis saw it 119-110, a bit wide for my liking.
Froch will fight Andre Ward in the fall, in the Super Six final. He was in the ring with Froch afterwards. Ward was gracious and classy, though Gray tried to stir it up by referencing Froch's statement this week that he thinks he can beat Ward.
Froch (167 1/2 pounds; age 33; from Nottingham, England) went to 28-1 , while Johnson (166 1/2; age 42; from Jamaica, living in Florida) dropped to 51-15-2.
The fight, called by the Boxing Channel's Al Bernstein, Gus Johnson and Antonio Tarver, ran on Showtime. Froch's WBC 168 pound crown was also on the line, for the record.
Froch after gave Johnson props, saying he was strong, but admitted he fell into a pace dictated by the loser. Johnson after told Jim Gray he felt he was "in it," but didn't beef with the decision. He said he started out boxing "properly," he said, but erred by fighting inside, looking to land power shots. He told Gray that he didn't weigh too little, and said he hoped Showtime and the people would want to see him again. I do, for what it's worth.
In the first, Froch looked to keep a comfortable distance. The Brit snapped a long jab. Interestingly, midway through the round, analyst Tarver told viewers that after the fighter meeting, Froch asked him how to beat Glen Johnson. You might recall Tarver lost to Johnson the first time they met, in 2004, but got his revenge, and won a UD six months later. Andre Ward sat in the booth, and he liked Johnson's work, liked his sharp right hand.
In the second, Froch again maintained a safe distance. He didn't want to let Johnson get under his hood, and poke around at his leisure.
In the third, Johnson had gotten fully warmed up, so he tried to close the gap. Froch needed to move more, but Johnson wasn't going to let that happen without an effort. If this fight went to the cards, it would be interesting to see how each man's strategy impressed, or failed to impress, the judges.
Froch's combos had to catch the judges' eye in the fourth. Johnson's trainer, Orlando Cuellar, told him to get busier after the round, that he would not win a decision. The trainer had predicted an easy win, and knockout, weeks ago.
In the fifth, Froch was more confident. He mixed up his shots, fired some uppercuts, and generally looked to be on cruise control, in a good way.
In the sixth, Froch was often retreat, same as in every other round, but it worked. As Johnson plodded after him, he back up, stayed patient, and then burst into action. A right hand by Johnson, after a left to the body made Froch drop his hands, had the crowd buzzing, with 15 seconds to go. Cocky Frochy grinned after, implying that the landed blow was no big deal. "It's getting away, we have to stop this guy," Cuellar said after the sixth.
Johnson tried, and landed some sharp tosses in the seventh. Short rights landed, but truth be told, his power at that range, or overall, is average. His body work, especially from the left hand, told Froch he was going to have to work hard to make the final.
In round eight, Johnson was warned for going low early. He was making Froch wince, and flinch, with the body work. A right hand at the 1:38 mark landed flush on Froch, and the crowd was getting into this beef that much more. Left hooks landed on Froch, as Johnson's stamina was darned impressive for a 32 year old, let alone a 42 year old. Froch was looking sloppier, less confident, with some of that cockiness having been whacked out of him. Ward after the round said that Froch was doing enough to stay ahead, but on my card, this was a clear, crystal clear Johnson round.
In the ninth, Froch landed three or four at a time. But he neglected to punch straight most of the time, and mostly lopped shots more than some trainers might like. He still ate leads clean, maybe a tad embarrassing against the 42 year old. And Johnson's blows looked a little more showy, had the crowd into them more so than Froch's, to my eye. But who knows how the judges would see it.
In the 10th, Froch looked a little lackadaisical. Johnson came forward with vigor and Froch was loosey goosey. He ramped it up with a nifty combo at the 1:50 mark, however. Johnson landed a lead right, clean, and I admit that I was surprised, repeatedly, that Johnson's leads so often landed cleanly. Johnson got away from some of that rugged body worked that worked so well earlier on. "Stop messing around," Froch's trainer Robert McCracken told him after.
In the 11th, Johnson's right hand made sweat fly. It may have been his hardest launch. By the way, let me interject here with props for Ward, who called this a 50-50 proposition when asked for a prediction fight week.
In the 12th, Froch had good luck with the jab. His uppercut was present, and he was a bit more active than in many rounds. We'd go to the cards.
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Here are postfight quotes:
Carl Froch, WBC Super Middleweight Champion/Super Six Finalist:
“Everyone is finally starting to acknowledge what I’ve done in successive fights.”
“I wasn’t 100% happy with my performance, because I’m the kind of guy who likes to unload my shots. I didn’t do that enough tonight, but I did enough to win.”
“Johnson is a big, strong light heavyweight and he can hang in with everyone. He is a proud, strong man. He was fading towards the end because I was hitting him.”
“It was a professional performance tonight, which I’m proud of. I did enough to win without taking too many risks.”
“I’m going to stay on the ball. I will have a little bit of a rest, and I’ll go back and see my baby boy Rocco. But, I will stay straight and stay fit.”
“You always learn in every fight. Tonight I solidified that I can box on my last foot and give Ward problems doing that.”
Eddie Hearn, Froch’s Promoter:
“Carl deserves the utmost respect from everyone in the world. He is a real fighter. We don’t have enough people like Carl Froch in boxing.”
“We’re going to build his fight with Andre Ward for what it is: a unification fight between the two best super middleweights in the world.”
“I don’t think there has been anyone who has fought, successively, so many top opponents. Carl is just a fighter.”
“My team has done a wonderful job with my career every since I teamed up with them. We have come up on the short end of the stick sometimes, and they have never given up on me.”
“For me, I will just go home and put more effort into it and see what I can bring next time.”
“It was a close fight. There was a lot of give and take. He hit me with some solid, clean shots.”
“Carl can fight. He is tough. We look forward to seeing a great fight between the two men who have made it to the finals.”
Lou DiBella, Johnson’s Co-Promoter:
“If you don’t love Glen Johnson then you don’t love boxing. It is an honor and privilege to be his promoter and to be his friend. You never get less than 100% from Glen Johnson.”
“Everyone on this team respects the heck out of Carl Froch. If Andre Ward thinks he will have an easy night, he is very wrong.”
“It was a very close fight going into the seventh or eighth round. Glen tried to take him out with one punch and Carl adjusted.”
Leon Margules, Johnson’s Co-Promoter:
“People who came here tonight saw a spectacular fight between two great warriors and champions. Anyone who saw the fight and knows boxing can appreciate the kind of battle Glen and Carl had.”
“For a 42 year old athlete to fight twelve hard rounds like that is a spectacular feat.”
“I’m not disappointed in Glen’s performance; I’m only disappointed in the result.”
Here is a video recap from Showtime: