Carl Froch… Calzaghe’s Shadow

By Michael Schmidt on May 30, 2011
Froch and Calzaghe have been trading insults for years

Froch’s legacy will always be compared to recent fellow world super middleweight champion, the retired, undefeated Joe Calzaghe…

Carl Froch has had a recent run of victories that could arguably stand as well as any other fighter’s of recent years. Since December of 2008 when he beat the previously undefeated Jean Pascal by convincing scores, Froch has gone on to beat Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, and Arthur Abraham. “The Cobra” will of course have his star shine that much brighter if he can obtain victories over Glen Johnson and Andre Ward to claim the Super Six Championship. Froch will be in tough in one or, if he gets by Johnson, both of those fights, but given his length and range, athleticism, and ability to think and adjust in the ring there is no reason to discount his winning it all. In turn, Froch’s legacy will always be compared to recent fellow world super middleweight champion, the retired, undefeated Joe Calzaghe.

Watching and listening to Carl Froch one cannot but be impressed with his intelligence and his outspoken but well-spoken comments. Who will ever forget his analogy, on a fight camp episode, of the business of boxing comparable to the last vestige of the Wild West or his continued verbal battles with Kalle Sauerland and tongue-in-cheek question of how many tournament points he would get if he knocked Kalle out. Refreshing outspokenness indeed. It is this intelligence that I suspect has Froch clearly recognizing that his loss to Mikkel Kessler will forever be the benchmark of his comparative legacy to Joe Calzaghe and why he will never surpass Calzaghe in that regard in the final analysis as to who stands where in the list of great super middleweight champions or great fighters for that matter.

There are other points to be made in the comparison of where Froch and Calzaghe stand, aside from the benchmark comparison of their respective fights with Kessler, which truly is the one glaring identifiable link between the two. Froch will of course never retire undefeated, whereas Calzaghe will continue to be mentioned in the same breath as Rocky Marciano and Ricardo “Finito” Lopes (who had a draw to his 51-victory record). Froch will more than likely not have the consecutive title defenses that Calzaghe had and it is doubtful that Froch will have two certain Hall of Fame fighters on his list as Calzaghe has in Jones and Hopkins.

One should not now, with the wisdom of hindsight, discount Calzaghe’s win over Hopkins. The win over Hopkins took place slightly over three years ago and if Hopkins had been more engaging that particular night one could easily argue that Calzaghe’s win would have been that much more impressive. At the time of the Hopkins fight Calzaghe was already 36 years old and this is often overlooked. Hopkins was not the only old warrior in the ring that night. What did Hopkins do after that loss? He soundly went on to beat Kelly Pavlik who in turn soundly beat Jermain Taylor. This is of course the same Jermain Taylor who gave Froch all he could handle and is on Froch’s resume as one of his better wins. At close to 46 years of age Hopkins fought a highly controversial draw with a young, in his prime, Jean Pascal. This is of course the same Jean Pascal that is, similarly to the Taylor win, on Froch’s résumé  as one of his better victories. As outstanding as Hopkins’ performance was it begs the question as what quality of fighter a 28-year-old Pascal is when he can only come out of the first Hopkins battle with a draw. This “hand that shook the hand that shook the hand” type of opponent analogy of course gets us back to Mikkel Kessler.

In November 2007, a 35-year-old Joe Calzaghe convincingly beat a prime 28-year-old Kessler to unify the WBA, WBC, and WBO super middleweight titles. Froch of course lost a unanimous decision to a 31-year-old Kessler and that in itself speaks for itself in comparing Froch and Calzaghe. In short, Kessler remains one hell of a measuring stick in any analysis of the two and, as well, individually as to their position in any boxing list of great fighters.

Depending on how Kessler and Hopkins careers continue to fair, as they both are still near the top of any ratings lists, Calzaghe’s legacy may continue to grow in retirement. Froch, depending how he does this year, may also grow substantially, but Calzaghe’s legacy will always loom large.

Froch and Calzaghe have been trading insults for years. In 2008 Calzaghe suggested that Froch was not worthy of a match with him and that he, Calzaghe, would probably knock out Froch in three rounds. Froch in turn continually spoke openly that Calzaghe was afraid to fight him, was avoiding him, and should fight him for the big money. Only recently have the two made public amends and have been complimentary of each other. No doubt Froch still envisions and entertains the thought of luring Calzaghe out of retirement for a superfight.

As Emanuel Steward has continually stated, Calzaghe’s speed, endurance, mental toughness, use of ring spacing, and ability to raise the level of his game during a fight, would make him a difficult opponent for anyone to handle at any time whether or not you liked his style of fighting. In terms of coming out of retirement to fight Froch, “Say it ain’t so Joe.” There is nothing left to prove. Mikkel Kessler has already done the proving for you and coming out of retirement at this stage solely for the money would potentially ruin a lifetime of achievement in the ring and an undefeated legacy. Froch and Calzaghe will both remembered years from now as great fighters, but Froch will always be in Calzaghe’s shadow.

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Froch vs Kessler part 1.avi

Froch vs Kessler part 2.avi

Froch vs Kessler part 3.avi

Froch vs Kessler part 4.avi

Calzaghe vs Kessler (part 1)

Calzaghe vs Kessler (part 2)

Calzaghe vs Kessler (part 3)

Calzaghe vs Kessler (part 4)

Calzaghe vs Kessler (part 5)

Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Calzaghe Prefight

HBO Boxing: Hopkins vs. Calzaghe Highlights (HBO)

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  1. Lee 06:10pm, 06/01/2011

    Joe Calzaghe was one of the great fighters of our time and if you never saw him fight live and up close, you really missed something special. He never got the respect he deserved (deserves) in America because boxing fans here are very provincial and out of touch and because nobody could believe that a white, European fighter could fight like that (great speed, improvisational flair, perfect timing, distance and toughness, even showboating) - including some of his opponents who learned the hard way.

    While the “in their prime” argument is unknowable, I personally believe that if Jones and/or Hopkins had faced Calzaghe 5 or 8 years earlier, the results would have been the same. Keep in mind that we’re talking about three great fighters who were ruling three different weight classes at the same time, so i don’t think anyone “ducked” anyone else; though if Hopkins or Jones ever wanted to experience fighting in front of 50,000 people, all they’d have had to do was go to Cardiff to face Joe Calzaghe.

    As for Froch/Johnson, I like Froch’s focus of late and he has the air of a man who won’t be denied. Glen Johnson is one of the great warriors of boxing and he may well have one or two more fine nights left in him. Either way, the fans win and I’m really looking forward to this fight.

  2. Guy 12:10pm, 06/01/2011

    I like Froch. I think he’s the real deal. I hope he beats Johnson and Ward and wins the Super Six. Ward is very technically sound but he’s boring to watch whereas Froch can bang and box. Calzaghe was a good champion, but had he fought Hopkins, Jones or Eubank when they were in their prime he would have been soundly beaten. He wasn’t a great fighter. He just came along at the right time.

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